(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Scenes from Life in Cairo: A Glimpse Behind the Curtain"

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 



at |http : //books . google . com/ 



GIFT OF 

PROFESSOR C.A. KOFOID 




{ 

i 



SCENES FROM LIFE IN CAIRO 




' In one hand she held a reed pen, and in the other a piece of rather thick 
'.- writing-paper doubled in two'— Page 3. 



SCENES FROM LIFE 
IN CAIRO 

A GLIMPSE BEHIND THE CURTAIN 
BY 

MARY L.'WHATELY 
1 1. . 

AUTHOR OF ' AMONG THE HUT^S, * LETTERS FROM EGYPT,' ETC. 




* . > » 



SEELEY, JACKSON, & HALLJp^^iT, SlEF;!: STREET 
LONDON. MDCCCLXXXIII 



All Rights reserved, k 



'1 C'-^ 



(151HLI0THKKR ) 



r^-- 



..,>\^Vl 



QHYL OV, 



PRCFESSOR C.A. KOFOf) 






PREFACE. 

This narrative is in a great measure taken from 
real life, and though the story itself and many of 
the characters are fictitious, not a few of the con- 
versations are literally true. The Hareem depicted 
is undoubtedly an exceptional one; but, as the 
proverb says, exception proves the rule. That the 
system is bad, and is one of the chief hindrances to 
improvement in Egypt, no one who really knows 
anything of the subject can for a moment deny. 
That recent events may, under Divine guidance, 
prove a means of opening the doors to education 
and civilization more than has ever been the case 
since the Moslem invasion, is the sanguine hope of 
all true lovers of Egypt. But the Gospel alone 
can bring the highest and truest wisdom and freedom. 



viii CONTENTS, 

CHAP. PAGE 

XVIII. Among the Bedouin Tents . . . .209 

XIX. The "Hakeem" 218 

XX. The Baptism by Night 229 

XXI. The Wife's Journey 237 

XXII. One in Christ 252 

XXIII. The Feast 263 

XXIV. Thus Far and No Farther . . . .274 

XXV. Farewell to Cairo 286 

XXVI. Conclusion .292 



BEHIND THE CURTAIN. 



CHAPTER I. 

SHE DWELT IN MARBLE HALLS. 

IT was a hot afternoon in spring, and the apart- 
ments of a large house in a retired and old- 
fashioned street in Cairo were as quiet as they usually 
were when summer had set in with its burning sceptre. 
The natives of the land are not quite insensible to the 
hot winds of spring, and if a very strong or long-con- 
tinued one blows, even a sturdy peasant, trudging 
cheerfully under a heavy burden in the sun, will give a 
sort of puff or sigh of relief, as she casts aside her 
basket or bundle, and sits down in the shade , re- 
marking, " The world is hot to-day ! By the Prophet, 
the world is hot ! *' 

But many of the occupants of the house we are now 
about to enter were of alien blood, and consequently 
much more sensitive to heat than real Egyptians. It \ 
was the abode of a widow lady of mixed race, Turkish 
and Circassian, though most of her life had been 

B 



2 SHE DWELT IN MARBLE HALLS. 

passed in Egypt. She was mistress, not only of the 
hareem or female apartments, but of the building itself, 
which had been part of the handsome portion she 
brought her husband on their marriage; for the 
lady Fatmeh had been the only child of a wealthy 
pasha. Her son, when not absent on business, gene- 
rally resided with her, and the strongest attachment 
existed between them. He visited the estates left him 
by his father frequently, but made his chief home with 
his mother. 

On this afternoon, except for servants and the 
steward and secretary, who resided on the ground- 
floor, the dwelling was entirely tenanted by women, 
as their busy tongues would have made apparent a 
little earlier in the day. In the passage near the 
kitchen a fat negress lay fast asleep on a bench ; for 
although heat is what the dark-skinned children of the 
interior of Africa rejoice in and thrive upon, they like 
a good deal of sleep on warm days. A little further 
was a large anteroom, where upon a mat were two or 
three more black women, whom it would have taken 
a strong shaking to rouse, and on the handsome silk- 
covered divan of one of the best rooms a couple more 
were stretched, with their long arms over the cushions, 
very much at their ease. In the smaller rooms — 
which, in the Turkish style, opened into the larger 
ones, and had curtains instead of doors — several white 
women of different ages were asleep also, either on 
carpets or mats. Their pale faces, and bro^n or even 



SHE DWELT IN MARBLE HALLS. 3 

light hair in some cases, showed them to be of Cir- N 
cassian race. 

The lady of the mansion, a dignified and pleasant- 
looking woman, somewhat past middle age, was re- 
clining amid a heap of cushions, while a young negress 
of ten or twelve years sat beside her with a fly-flap, 
to keep away the little tormentors, which even the 
shade of the latticed windows could not entirely 
banish. A long pipe, with a' richly-ornamented stick, 
had dropped from her hand when she fell asleep, and 
lay beside her ; for the little cigar had not yet driven 
out the stately chibouk in that rather old-fashioned 
abode. 

Not a sound was to be heard, save the occasional 
swish of the fly-flap, or a snore from one of the 
slumbering negresses ; yet there was one member of 
the family who was neither asleep, nor yet, strange to 
say, engaged in the favourite hareem occupation of i 
doing nothing. In one of the smaller rooms, from 
which the heavy brocaded curtain was fastened back 
(had any one been awake to observe her) a lady might 
have been descried seated on the divan, her feet 
gathered up, and her delicate little slippers on the mat 
beside her, a small inlaid table near, upon which was 
a silver inkstand of oriental shape ; in one hand she 
held a reed pen, and in the other a piece of rather thick 
writing-paper doubled in two. On this she was slowly 
tracing characters, looking from time to time at a 
copy-slip which was placed on her knee. (In the East 



4 SHE DWELT IN MARBLE HALLS, 

they do not write on tables or desks.) Patiently she 
cpntinued her occupation till the paper was full, and 
then, laying it down with an air of satisfaction and 
innocent pride at such an achievement, she took up 
another sheet and proceeded to repeat her copy. 

The lady who was engaged in this unwonted em- 
ployment was young and lovely ; she would have 
seemed to Western eyes from eighteen to nineteen years 
old, and was therefore probably fifteen or sixteen. She 
was not Egyptian, but of that famed Circassian race 
which, although by no means always so beautiful as is 
generally imagined, yet furnishes occasionally the finest 
type of physical beauty, and if it generally presents 
an unintellectual and sleepy expression, the wretched 
system of hareem life is to be blamed. In the present 
instance more than usual intelligence was shown 
in the large, soft, brown eyes and finely-marked brow, 
and the head, from which dark-brown locks fell on the 
shoulders, only confined by a slight kerchief of amber- 
coloured gauze, was finely developed, and showed 
^ense as well as beauty ; her complexion was clear 
and delicate, with a slight rose tint on the cheeks, but 
not so fair as some of her countrywomen. She was 
dressed in a loose summer robe of cream-coloured 
Persian silk, with a narrow crimson stripe, as thin and 
light as muslin, and the open sleeve flung back to 
enable the wiiter to pursue her occupation unfettered, 
displayed arms and hands that a sculptor would have 
liked to model. At length, her second page filled, 



SHE DWELT IN MARBLE HALLS. 5 

the lady put aside her papers and began to read in a 
low voice from a small richly-bound volume of poems j 
111 Arabic, which she apparently had read before, as 
she seldom hesitated, though now and then she paused 
to spell a word less familiar than the rest. While thus 
occupied, an elderly negress, stout and well clad, as 
are slaves in a wealthy family, came softly into the 
room, laying aside her slippers at the door, and 
walking as if on eggs to avoid rousing the older lady 
within. 

" Now, my eyes ! " — ^a favourite Eastern form of 
endearment — she said, after watching the fair scholar 
for a minute in silence, " what art thou studying for, 
now, at this time of day, instead of sleeping ? It will 
hurt thy head, lady of my heart ! " 

The writer looked up, smiling affectionately at her 
husband's nurse, for such was the negress, and replied, 
closing her book as she spoke, " I slept for an hour, 
my good Amneh. I am not so heavy for sleep as 
those," pointing to the slaves in the anteroom. 

** The lazy cattle ! " said the nurse, " why was not 
one of them standing here, my child, to fan thee and 
drive away flies ? *' 

" Oh, I care not for them ; I write better when quite 
alone ; and my lord will be pleased with me when he 
sees how well I have written ! " 

** Mashallah ! he may well be pleased with thee; but \ 
what is the good of a woman learning to read and write ? 
The MoUah comes behind the curtains to read the 



\ 



6 SHE DWELT IN MARBLE HALLS. 

Koran in the fast and at festivals, and a blind man can 
recite poems and songs. What can my lady want 
more ? " 

" To please her lord, Amneh, after his taking the 
pains to teach me, how could I be less than diligent." 

" True, my sweetest ; but the Bey does not want you 
to be tired to death, so now drink this sherbet," 
taking a crystal goblet from an inferior slave, who 
came to the doorway at her sign, " and rest a little ; " 
and she moved the stand, and gently stroked the silky 
locks of hair that strayed over the cushions, as her 
young mistress lay back upon them, with a good- 
humoured smile. 

At this moment the voice of the elder lady was 
heard from within ; she had roused from her nap : 
" Amneh, tell them to prepare the bath for me ; and is 
the young lady awake ? " 

" Yes, truly, she has been writing this hour past," 
replied the nurse, giving a knowing twist to the yellow 
muslin handkerchief that crowned her sable brows, 
and sauntering into the other room with that air of 
easy familiarity peculiar to slaves in the East. 

" Indeed, Sitt Fatmeh," she observed, *' I wish the 
Bey would be content as others are and let his lady 
play with jewels, look at herself in the glass, and leave 
books to the Sheikhs ! " Sitt Fatmeh laughed—" Tell 
me, Amneh, are there many like my son ? " 

" Not one that I ever saw ! " — 

" The name of the All Powerful be on him ! Is he like 



SHE DWELT IN MARBLE HALLS. 7 

the rest who take one wife after another ? Does he not 
make thy young lady as a queen ? Did he not promise 
when he married her, not to take another ; and did hq 
not teach her to read that she might be fit company 
for him?'' 

" I repent of my rash words, Mistress ; the Bey 
is one of a thousand indeed ; God keep Ain el 
Hayat (pronounced ine el hayat) and him for a hundred 
years, and may they see their children's children.'* 

"Amen," replied the mother solemnly, and then 
rising, she beckoned her attendants who were one 
by one returning to life, and went to refresh herself with 
a bath. 

Scarcely had she taken her departure, when a clap^ 
ping of hands was heard below, and a black boy 
presently came up, saying that the frank lady had 
called to see Sitt Ain el Hayat, if she were disposed 
to receive her. "Certainly," said the lady with 3, 
bright look which showed the visitor to be really wel- 
come, and 'the heavy, thick, mysterious-looking hareem 
curtain, which hung at the entrance of the forbidden 
staircase, was lifted just sufficiently to allow of one 
person at a time to pass, and the visitor followed the 
servant to the apartment where her friend was rising 
to meet her. She was a lady in European dress of 
quiet subdued colours, but not in mourning, and of 
rather doubtful age, not young, certainly. Her whole 
bearing had the decision of a person of experience, 
arid a silver hair here and there gleamed amid the 



8 SHE DWELT IN MARBLE HALLS. 

glossy braids of dark hair under her simple straw 
travelling hat ; but the figure was as light and the step 
as springy as that of a girl, and though when silent, 
the lines of care as well as years showed in the face, 
yet when she spoke and smiled, the bright counten* 
ance, some might have said, was almost too bright for 
a middle-aged widow, and yet such she was. 

Her married life had been very brief, though very 
happy. By slow degrees her natural elasticity, aided 
by living faith, made her almost as bright as before 
her great trial, so her friends said (perhaps she kept 
her dark hours to herself) 

Certain it was that she lived to make others happy, 
and having good health and an active temperament, 
she was therefore happier than many others. Mrs. 
Hillyard was, to all intents and purposes, an English- 
woman, and gloried in her father's country and insti- 
tutions. Nevertheless, she was not only bom in 
Egypt, but had oriental blood. The large bright eyes 
liad a look not often found in the northern races, so 
dark a hazel as to look black at night, with the long 
lashes and marked eyebrows of the south. She was 
still a handsome woman, but her dress, though in good 
taste, was so extremely simple, that it was evident 
that making the best of herself was about the last 
thing which entered her thoughts. She appeared as 
welcome as flowers in May to her hareem friend at 
any rate, and was received with cordial smiles and 
beaming eyes, which meant a great deal more than the 



SHE DWELT IN MARBLE HALLS. 



9 



polite phrases which would equally have been uttered 
to an indifferent guest as matters of decorum, 

" It is good that you are here, dearest Sitt," exclaimed 
the fair Circassian when they were seated on the divan 
holding her hand as she spoke ; " it is long since I 
have seen any one I care to talk to." 

"Ah, but I see my young sister has been studying," 
replied the guest, pointing to the folded papers and 
books. 

" Yes, truly ; do you know that my lord has been 
teaching me to write ? I learned to read with him 
the first year we were married, and now he is teaching 
me writing also, and to read poetry, and he told me 
such wonderful things about the stars and moon. 
Only think, Sitt Irene, he saw them in a great glass 
which shows distant things, and he told me about it 
yesterday." 

Mrs. Hillyard knew that to a hareem lady sur- 
rounded by ignorance as by a thick fog, a man who 
was acquainted with the first rudiments of astronomy 
even would appear a marvel of wisdom and learning, 
provided she had intelligence enough to appreciate 
learning at all. But she knew also that the Bey was 
really a well-informed man, and not a mere tyro, and 
that he had read a good deal in French and English, 
as well as Arabic and Turkish (in which last there are 
few books indeed). She warmly congratulated her 
young friend, and observed how very few. in her 
position were equally fortunate. 



lO SHE DWELT /A MARBLE HALLS, 

** Few ? dear Sitt, there is not one ; no one ever 
was like my lord. See now, till I was married I did 
not know what it was to have any one to care for me 
really. The princess who brought me up was kind, 
but I saw her seldom ; she had plenty of white slaves 
like me, whom she treated very well, and gave fine 
clothes to, and sometimes jewels on the festivals ; but 
I never seemed to belong to any one in particular. 
There were such numbers of us all without a single 
relation, not even knowing our parents' names or 
languages, never having had a brother or sister, or any 
one that was our own blood ! " 

" I thought you Circassians did not care, so long- 
as you had a good place, with riches and luxury," 
said Mrs. Hillyard, who wanted to bring out all that 
was in her friend's mind, as this was a subject on 
which she was usually reserved, and she wanted not 
to lose the opportunity. 

" Oh, Sitt, all are not alike ! I think most do not 
care at all, but some have hearts," pressing her pretty 
hands to her own as she spoke, and the sweet gazelle 
eyes lighting up with feeling ; "you know there are 
thousands of us who are thus alone in the world, 
either stolen or sold as little children ; and I need not 
tell one like you, who are wise, that there are things 
in hareem life not very nice. This country has its 
customs, and we just take things as we find them 
usually ; but sometimes, Sitt Irene, when we were in 
the country palace and I was quite young, and allowed 



SHE DWELT IN MARBLE HALLS. u 

to run about a good deal, where there is that large 
garden, I used to see the gardener and his wife and 
their children sitting under the great apricot tree, 
dining together, and I felt something rise in my heart 
when I looked at them ; the fare was coarse, and the 
clothes ragged, but they laughed and chatted, and ate 
out of one dish, the man and his wife and his little 
ones, and the baby went from the father to the mother 
and played ; they seemed happier than the people in 
the grand saloons, with us, where there are so 
many women together, so often quarrelling and envy- 
ing, and so on. I used to think, had I ever a father 
who took me on his knee like that ?" 

" You told me you were stolen," said her visitor. 

" I was, certainly ; I can just recollect a man 
coming to the door of a house where I was playing, 
and offering me sugar-plums ; my poor grandmother 
did not see well, and was not near the door. So I 
followed him, and he coaxed me round the corner, 
then suddenly threw something over my face, and rode 
away with me. I was told by an old woman after- 
wards, that the sweets were probably drugged, and that 
was why I forgot everything till I was on the ship, on the 
way to Stamboul, and a merchant of slaves brought 
me here, when the Princess Fatmeh bought me. But 
I talk too much, and you have not had sherbet yet." 

Mrs. Hillyard would rather have the story than an 
ocean of sherbet, and said so ; but the gentle hostess 
would not incur the blame of being remiss, and 



12 SHE DWELT IN MARBLE HALLS. 

clapped her hands, at which a white slave showed 
herself, a middle-aged, rather sulky-looking, but very- 
clean person, who, in her turn, summoned a black girl 
bearing the silver tray with vases of rose sherbet. 
When this ceremony was over, and the visitor had 
declared she did not smoke, she prevailed on the fair 
Ain el Hayat to continue. 

" About what ? The gardener's family } Oh, there 
was nothing to tell, only the sort of empty feeling in 
my heart when I thought myself like one of the roses 
on a bush ; if it falls to pieces, we pick another ; they 
are alike ; and though we are used to look on jewels 
and dress and wealth in every way as the greatest, 
best thing, it was not enough, somehow, I thought." 

" And even," added her friend, " that the poor might 
be happier without it, if they had love ; it was love 
you wanted, dear Sitt." 

" Yes, and I never thought of having that in mar- 
riage. You know the sort of love I wished for was 
not merely the love given to a favourite wife for a 
short time where there are others, and she is only the 
best liked by her husband, and hated by the rest I 
longed for a peaceful feeling all round me, as if I was 
very dear to some one, and no hatred or jealousy in 
the house. Well, when the princess said she wished 
to give me in marriage to the son of a pasha whom 
she heard very well spoken of, and asked if I were 
willing, what could I do } The customs do not, of 
course, allow a girl to see her bridegroom beforehand. 



SHE DWELT IN MARBLE HALLS. 13 

and she would be angry if I refused, although she 
said she would not oblige me. I hung my head, and 
said nothing. She laughed, and said, * Like all the 
maidens, shy as a gazelle. But, never mind, little one, 
few are so lucky, I can tell thee; he has a good charac- 
ter.* Then she dismissed me. I went wandering about 
the hareem rooms, thinking, What shall I do ? In one 
room I found a stranger negress talking to our black 
slaves. They said, * She is the nurse of Zohrab Bey, 
whose father is seeking a wife for him from the 
hareem ; perhaps our little lady there ; ' said one of 
them, laughing, * I know our mistress sent for her just 
now/ * No, I think it is Tofeeda or Ayesha,* said 
another ; * they are greater favourites.* I was silent, 
and went away. The negress got up and followed 
me. ' Wilt thou let me look at thee, sweet lady,' she 
said, whispering, and asked my name. Then she said, 

* It is thou,' and began to congratulate and bless me, 
and told me how the Bey would be so pleased with 
me, in their way, you know, words are never wanting. 
W^ell, I stopped her, and said, * I want no fine words, 
but truth from God. Tell me, is he really good? 
If you deceive me, it will be bad for all hereafter.' 
*By the God of power, lady, I have reared this 
young man — the name of our prophet be on him — 
and he is good as no other that I know. And thou 
art not like other maidens, for they would have said, 

* Is he handsome ? Will he give me jewels ? ' He has 
never thoughtof marriage, and only cared for his studies; 



14 SHE DWELT IN MARBLE HALLS. 

he is very learned and clever; but his father and mother 
wished him to marry, and all he said was, *My 
father, let the princess give me a lady whom I can 
love ; for I only want one wife.' When I heard 
this I was full of joy, and said, * Truly, God is 
great' " The speaker paused and blushed, nor did 
her friend like to ask of that strange fii*st meeting, when 
two bound solemnly together first saw each other's 
face. But after a pause she said, 

" God is great, indeed, my sweet sister, and I trust 
you have the happiness you expected." 

" Truly, and more. My lord from the first told me 
that if I was loving and faithful he would promise never 
to have another wife with me ; and though his 
mother must be head lady in the hareem, I should 
tell him everything I wanted, and that she would love 
me, too. She does ; she is an excellent mother- 
in-law, only she did not like his teaching me to read 
at first, but he does as he likes. I can read quite 
fluently now. My mother-in-law wished me, if I 
learned, to learn Turkish, which is her language ; but 
my father-in-law is an Arab, and he said, ' No ; Arabic 
is best, because the Koran is in Arabic' " 

" Can you read nothing but the Koran ? " 

** The Bey gave me some poems to read lately — ^he 
likes poetry very much — only they are rather hard." 

" I thought, perhaps, he might allow you to read 
the Psalms of David ; they are wonderful, and also 
more profitable than other poems, being from a 



SHE D WEL T IN MARBLE HALLS, 1 5 

prophet's pen." As she spoke, Mrs. Hillyard showed 
a very neatly-bound and well-printed book, and began 
to turn over its leaves. Her hostess willingly allowed 
her to read several verses, and admired them very 
much. She would not read a word herself without 
permission, nor did her friend urge it. She knew that 
with one so young and so ignorant there could not in 
her country and position, be that full trust and confi- 
dence which a European wife expects. It was well 
that she possessed so much more than others. For a 
wife to be anything of a companion, even as much as 
an intelligent little child is to a father or mother, 
was rare. 

After a little further talk, they were interrupted by 
the return of the mother-in-law from her bath, when, 
of course, her visitor was obliged to give her attention 
to the older lady during the remainder of the visit, 
which had indeed lasted a considerable time ; but that 
is oriental custom, except when calling on the ladies of 
the royal hareems. While the elaborate salutations 
and leave-takings are going on, we will introduce 
the visitor a little more particularly. 



CHAPTER 11. 

A WIDOW INDEED. 

MANY years before our story begins, a young 
English merchant named Hillyard came to 
reside in Egypt ; he was chiefly in Alexandria, and, 
among other acquaintances, was especially intimate 
at the house of one of the partners of his firm, a 
Greek gentleman, who owned a handsome villa near 
the canal, with a delightful garden. He had come 
formerly from the Greek islands, and after spending 
a few years in Syria, where he married a lady of 
Beyrout, he finally settled in Egypt, and like many 
of his intelligent and enterprising countrymen, at- 
tained wealth, and became a landowner as well as a 
merchant. Though he never forgot the tongue of his 
ancestors, and insisted that his children should be 
able to speak it, the Arabic, which was not only his 
wife's native language, but also that of their adopted 
country, Egypt, naturally took the pre-eminence. 
The speaking two languages, and some dexterity in 
embroidery and making sweetmeats, were the only 
things the least approaching to education which his 



A WIDOW INDEED. 



^7 



pretty daughters possessed ; their brother had 
received a fair amount of instruction for the time 
when high schools were but in their infancy in any 
part of the East, but Levantine ladies were usually 
as ignorant as those in hareems, and not one knew 
her letters in any tongue, though sometimes able to 
prattle (one can scarcely say to converse) in two or 
three. 

However, they had lovely eyes and bright smiles, 
one especially so, called Zareefa, and the young 
Englishman was captivated ; he had no very near 
relatives to consult, and within a few weeks of first 
being introduced to the dark-eyed maiden, he was 
engaged to her, and shortly afterwards married. 

She was amiable, and not naturally stupid ; but a 
very few months proved to her husband that he had 
made a mistake : a totally uneducated woman could 
not make an Englishman of his position happy, or be 
anything of a companion to him. Mr. Hillyard 
wished at first to teach his lovely bride ; but she 
rebelled against anything that gave trouble, and 
except a little broken English to talk (not to read), 
she never learned anything. She was used to a good 
deal of freedom, and plenty of society ; and between 
friends, sisters, and cousins, was rarely alone ; gossip 
and dress occupied her time, and much of her 
thoughts. She loved her husband, and admired 
him ; but he was not the sole object of her interest 
or affection, and her regard was not so intense as 

C 



l8 A WIDOW INDEED, 

to overcome the languor common to most denizens 
of hot countries, added to the ridicule of her female 
companions. 

" Books, indeed ! JVhat do you want of books, 
Zareefa ? they are only for men. What needless 
trouble are you taking to learn letters! Does not 
your husband like you enough as you are ? Come, 
look at this powder for the complexion, it is delicate 
indeed." 

So the aunt or sister would say, and the mother 
would take another line, and say, " If you tire your 
head you will be ill; you are not very strong; I cannot 
permit you to study, my dear child ; it is very well for 
English women, who are peculiar, but it does not suit 
us, and what is the good ? " 

Then a baby came, and its appearance was an 
excuse for the pretty, lazy creature to neglect every- 
thing else — even her dress became slatternly, except 
when she went visiting ; meals were irregular, and the 
house untidy and comfortless to an Englishman's 
ideas ; all for the sake of the child, who yet was 
always handed to a negress to carry if she cried, and 
who never met her father's eyes but with a dirty face, 
and clad in a wretched muffle of various handker- 
chiefs and little jackets. The hot climate made the 
young wife far more careless and languid than she 
would have been either in Syria or in Greece, for she 
was not strong, and was spoiled by those around 
her. 



A WIDOW INDEED. 



19 



In these days, a girl with equal exterior attractions 
and some little education might have been found, 
though, as yet, instruction is apt to be very 
superficial, and the Levantine daughter is, as a rule, 
removed from school just at the time when she is 
beginning really to profit by the trouble taken with 
her ; but at least there is no longer contempt for 
education, quite the contrary ; forty odd years ago it 
was a very different state of things. 

Mr. Hillyard was far from happy, but he still 
hoped that a residence in England would improve his 
ignorant, vapid little wife, and gladly arranged to 
return thither two years after his marriage ; but it 
was otherwise ordained for him. Zareefa was not 
well, and the journey was delayed till winter; then 
the family dreaded the storms and a cold climate, 
and persuaded him to go without her, and let her 
follow in summer ; but she caught a prevailing 
fever and died, instead of going to join him. The 
little girl was only a year and a half old, and the 
father, having neither mother nor sister, was easily 
persuaded to leave her with the oriental grandmother 
for a time, at her entreaty. His conscience re- 
proached him after a while for not sending for his 
daughter, but she was still so young ; what should he 
do with a baby while living in lodgings? At the end 
of three years the difficulty was removed by his 
marriage with a lady in every way fitted to be a kind 
mother to his child, as well as a helpmeet to himself, 



;20 A WIDOW INDEED. 

jand at her entreaty he wrote at once to bring the 
little Irene home. 

The new mamma was a little taken aback at the 
first aspect of her young charge—a yellow muslin 
handkerchief was bound over her head, hiding all her 
hair in front, while behind it hung down in several 
little tight plaits ; her face looked pinched and 
sallow, partly from the fatigues of the voyage, but 
yet more from the injudicious rearing of her grand- 
mother and aunts. Her dress (besides the yellow 
kerchief) consisted of a faded and rather dirty silk 
jacket over a shabby old cotton one, and a rich 
brocaded silk skirt, with sundry stains on it, and 
much too long, nearly hiding her little red slippered 
feet (high heels had not yet found their way to 
Egypt) ; the only beauty of Irene's face was her fine 
dark eyes, and even they had a queer startled look 
in them. But this was only the first " abord ; " a few 
weeks of judicious kindness, and some new clothes, 
made a great change ; and proper diet and out-door 
exercise soon brought a tinge of healthy bloom to the 
brunette cheeks. What was still better, the odd, 
disorderly, uncivilised habits dropped off quickly, 
especially when the little girl knew English enough 
to be admitted as" scholar to a good day-school, and 
to associate with other well-trained children. 

Her father had given her the name of Irene, for he 
liked the sonorous Greek names. Her grandparents, 
indeed, had disputed over the new baby (she had 



A WIDOW INDEED. 21 

been their first grandchild), one wishing for a Syrian 
name, and the other desiring to give her the curious 
appellation (as it is to our ideas) of Xantippe, after a 
Greek godmother ; for education was at too low an 
ebb for any of the ladies to be aware that the name 
was associated with the scolding wife of the famous 
philosopher ; they knew nothing of history, nor, to say 
truth, did the worthy merchant himself. But the 
English father had decided on a Greek name chosen 
by himself, and it was generally approved after all. 

The mother's relatives often sent letters asking for 
a visit from their former pet, but it seemed wisest not 
to let her education be interrupted for a considerable 
time, so that she was fifteen when she revisited Egypt 
with her father and stepmother. The grandparents 
were then surrounded by a troop of other grand- 
children, with whom they got on better than with the 
complete English girl, who was so unlike the small 
Irene of old days. They were very kind, but the chil- 
dren, brought up in their own way, naturally suited 
them better, and the poor old folks (the lady especially) 
were rather " put out " that there was no idea of a 
bridegroom yet, and felt the second mother was not 
doing her duty. In vain, by aid of her husband's 
interpreting, did Mrs. Hillyard represent that in 
England fifteen was the age of a school-girl, and not 
of a young matron. The grandmother returned to 
the charge as a green-door to its hinges, and plain- 
tively remarked every day she saw Irene, " Why don't 



22 A WIDOW INDEED, 

they find her a bridegroom ? " Her uncle had more 
sense, because he had more education, and as he and 
his wife had no family, they made a g^eat deal of the 
English niece, and were very proud of her. After a 
few months in Egypt the party returned, but as 
Irene had in a great degree recovered the power of 
speaking Arabic, which she had lost, her father 
resolved she should keep it up, as he intended his 
eldest boy for business in the East, and it would 
be pleasant for both if the brother and sister studied 
Arabic together ; so he found a teacher in Liverpool, 
where they resided, and let them take lessons. This 
made a special tie between Irene and her brother 
Edmund, who was also the nearest to her in age. It 
was, however, long ere she again saw the sunny skies 
and feathery palms of that pleasant land. 

When little past twenty she was engaged to be 
married, and an English home seemed likely to be 
her lot in life. She had grown up a bright, handsome 
girl, full of energy and spirits ; few, indeed, suspected 
the depth of feeling and steadiness of purpose which 
lay beneath these sprightly manners ; but a distant 
relative of her father^s, bearing the same name, and like 
herself a devoted Christian, had learnt to appreciate 
her fully, and as soon as he saw a prospect of being 
able to marry he spoke. After a year of waiting and 
preparation, they were united, and with a moderate 
competence, active habits, and good health, seemed to 
^ave a fair prospect before them ; but Irene's married 



A WIDOW INDEED. 23 

life as before observed, though happy, was a very 
brief one. 

A sudden sharp malady carried off her husband 
when they had been only married a little more than a 
year. As she afterwards told the few to whom she 
could speak on these subjects, three years comprised 
all the rose-coloured portion of her life : the acquaint- 
ance, gradually ripening into strong attachment, the 
engagement, and the short period of married 
bliss. 

The pretty newly-furnished home was desolate, and 
she left it to return to her family ; they wanted her, 
she said, and no one else did particularly. After a 
time, she found, as Christian women always can, 
plenty who wanted her besides the dear ones in the 
family circle, poor, and sick, and afflicted, who learned 
to bless the sound of her footsteps at their doors. 
Years passed, and one sister married, and the father 
died, and then the brother was going to the East, 
for the second time, taking a wife with him ; his 
first stay had been, short, but now he was going to 
settle. Both brother and sister-in-law were much 
attached to the widowed Irene, and entreated her to 
come with them; at any rate, for a time. She agreed, 
and first in Alexandria, and then in Cairo, resided 
with them, the first year being followed by another 
and another, and still they begged her not to leave 
them. At the end of the fourth year of her Egyptian 
sojourn, her maternal uncle died; and having no 



24 ^ WIDOW INDEED. 

children, and his widow amply provided for, he left 
this, his favourite niece, a small estate, which made 
her quite independent, and though not wealthy, able 
to do good without the painful struggle and counting 
of pence which, since her husband's death, had been 
needful in her charities, having been left ^Yith just 
enough to live on, and but very small margin. She 
heartily enjoyed her independence, for, though now 
quite a middle-aged woman, she was a cheerful, 
happy person, as before remarked. 

Her married life had been too short to give a 
colour to the whole of after life, deep as was the dis- 
appointment, it was so quickly cut short, — it had 
been an episode rather than a life in fact. Some 
wondered that so bright a person had never married 
again; but that was an idea she had not for a moment 
entertained. A still more busy life than before, 
though a very quiet one was hers, after entering into 
possession of her Egyptian property. It was a pretty 
place enough, about twelve miles from Cairo, and 
within easy reach of a large vilUge, and not far from 
the river. It included a tolerable garden, which she 
soon made a charming one, and a house which, though 
built only of mud brick and not even tolerable, was 
rendered quite habitable and even comfortable, by a 
moderate outlay. Mrs. Hillyard made it her chief 
residence, and devoted much time to the sick and 
poor in her neighbourhood ; but she spent some 
months of each year with her brother who now lived 



A M^/DO IV INDEED. 2$ 

in Cairo, and occasionally visited her relatives and 
friends in England. 

One of the estates adjoining her little farm was the 
property of Zohrab Bey, and though the ladies of the 
family had never stayed there since she had made 
their acquaintance, the fact of the neighbourhood 
seemed to add to their friendly feeling. Mrs. Hill- 
yard had been in town with her brother and sister-in- 
law when she paid the visit related in the last chapter, 
but hastened back to the country as soon as circum- 
stances permitted, as it was the end of harvest, and 
the agent wanted to settle accounts with her. 

At an early hour, two days afterwards, she was 
seated at her writing-table, finishing a letter to her 
only unmarried sister, who resided at Birkenhead with 
her mother. " Well, Clara," she wrote, " here I am 
again, in the * peasants' country,' as you know we call 
all rural abodes in Egypt. And very glad to get out 
of the hot, dusty town, though Edmund has a large 
cool house, to be sure, and not a despicable garden ; 
still I am now used to the country, and like it best in 
spite of the solitude. Of course there are human 
beings enough; how these Egyptian villages swarm 
with people to be sure ! but no educated or civilised 
neighbours within twelve miles or more. 

** This is my second year here on my own property. 
The garden is wonderfully improved, though it was 
pretty fair before; plenty of orange and lemon trees ; a 
tangle of vines and jessamine, roses, and eggplants 



26 A W/DO IV INDEED. 

in wild confusion, but very delightful ; now, more 
variety and a shade more order reign, and I wish for 
nothing better. 

"But the house was then, as I told you, only mud 
brick, and not even plastered, and full of all sorts of 
* eerie ' creatures from long neglect. Now it is clean 
and sound, and though plainly, and even rudely, fur- 
nished (for my barefooted damsels marry as soon as 
I have trained them, and break a good deal in learn- 
ing) the tout ensemble is most comfortable, and rather 
tasteful, with my water garden, my last addition, in one 
window, and flowers and paintings wherever I can put 
them. The water garden is a large zinc pan, of a neat 
shape, with water lilies, rice plants, and other watery 
things, growingin it — so refreshing this hot time of year 
to look at ! You heard, of course, what delayed me so 
late in town. Edmund wrote to you how there were 
two cases of bad eyes among the children, so I stayed 
to help poor Esther, and close work it was in the 
dark, shut^up rooms for a whole fortnight. If the 
healthy ones found it trying, what must the poor little 
suffering darlings have endured ? However, it was a 
comfort to help and cheer them, and now all is over, 
the bottles of eye-water put away, veils discarded, 
and happiness returned to the nursery. So yesterday 
I rose at four, literally and truly, and mounted my 
donkey, and rode off in the cool, fresh morning, and 
got here before the heat. Yesterday was taken up 
yrith accounts ; to-day I have one or two sick to visit, 



A WIDOW INDEED, 2/ 

and am going to breakfast early on that account The 
village is too suffocating later in the morning, so 
Zeynab, my little maid, is trotting about in her 
pretty, clean print frock, laying my small table, and 
setting out the beautiful dark purple figs and amber 
bananas on their green leaves. With a cup of coffee and 
milk, they form my early meal. My pretty little 
Aden cow and a long-haired white goat are visible 
from one of the windows, discussing their breakfast in 
the yard, while numerous fowls and snowy pigeons 
are pecking about in the glorious sunshine of half-past 
six o'clock ! I wish you and mother could be here 
to see it ; but I must stop my pen pictures, for here 
comes Zeynab with the milk, calling * Suffra hadthir ! ' 
which means, * the table is ready,' so adieu for the 
present." 



CHAPTER III. 

BEHIND THE CURTAIN. 

IT was scarcely a week after Mrs. Hillyard's visit to 
the hareem that the females of that secluded 
abode were busily engaged with the annual arrange- 
ments for summer. For a wonder, real activity reigned 
behind the embroidered curtain, for it was necessary 
to change the heavy silk and brocade coverings of the 
endless number of sofas, and to prepare the delicate 
chintz and white calico used in hot weather ; besides, 
the removal of mats and carpets, &c., occupied several 
of the negresses, while the white slaves superintended 
them or sat in the anteroom folding linen from the 
wash. Two great strapping black damsels, in pink 
cotton trowsers and jackets, were striding about the 
marble hall below, splashing it with water, and from 
the unusual length of their limbs, looking like men in 
disguise ; a fair middle-aged person (the same who 
came to offer sherbet to Mrs. Hillyard, and who was 
the personal attendant of Sitt Ain el Hayat) was 
walking after this pair, to see that they performed 
their duty properly, mounted upon high pattens of 
dark wood inlaid with mother-of-pearl, to keep the 



BEHIND THE CURTAIN, 29 

■ — • — 1 

feet from the wet stones. All were busy, and pro- 
bably for that reason happier than usual ; at any 
rate, they were more talkative, and the chattering in 
Turkish among the Circassians (most of whom are 
accustomed to that language, having been reared in 
Constantinople) was only second to the clatter of 
tongues from the more numerous negresses, whose 
conversation, if we can call it by so dignified a name, 
was carried on in " slaves' Arabic," a sort of slip-slop 
or mispronounced Arabic, answering to the ** talky- 
talky" of our West Indian Island negroes. 

None of the half-dozen white slaves in this hareem 
were very young or particularly handsome ; all had 
lived some years with the great lady, as Sitt Fatmeh 
was usually designated in her own household, and the 
older ones had passed nearly all their lives with her, 
and had been so kindly treated, that though she had 
told them she would find a husband for any who 
wished to marry — this being not uncommon for ladies 
of the most respectable class and of generous dispo- 
sitions to do with slaves who have served them 
faithfully for several years — only one of those who 
originally belonged to her had cared to leave a home 
where she was exceptionally well off for the risk of 
a new one. She had supplied the vacancy by a plain 
woman of thirty. But she need not have feared for 
her son. Though the uncivilised customs of his country 
allowed several legal wives and as many slave wives as 
(he master chooses, Zohrab Bey had received an edu- 



30 BEHIND THE CURTAIN. 

cation which, acting on a character and disposition 
far above the average of Mohammedan youths, made 
him look with contempt and dislike on these old 
customs, and early resolve to be among those who 
from the first intended to have only one wife. And 
his mother had taken care to let the princess from 
whose hands she sought a bride for her beloved son, 
be informed of this view ; the lady of high degree, 
though aware it was a modern innovation, could not 
but in her heart approve of it, and picked out the best 
tempered and most intelligent of the lovely maidens 
in her establishment " Now, Sitt Fatmeh," she had 
said, when receiving the ceremonial visit of thanks for 
the favour, ** I am giving you a gem for a daughter- 
in-law. I was at first undecided between three nearly 
of the same age, quite as pretty one as the other, or 
indeed one of them would be generally more admired 
than my choice, because she is fairer in complexion, 
but her temper is sulky ; but all the slaves love Ain El 
Hayat, she is as gentle as a dove." And the mother- 
in-law, who, though a really kindhearted woman, was 
by no means a dove herself, had cause to bless the 
princess very often for the wise selection, both for the 
sake of her son and herself. 

But to return to the hareem on the busy day of 
summer preparation. The two ladies of the family 
were not idle ; they had to issue commands to the 
rest ; the younger one superintended the folding and 
putting away of the embroidered towels and napkins, 



BEHIND THE CURTAIN. 3 1 

&c., in one room, while the great lady reclined on a 
divan in the chief reception room, giving orders to 
one after another of the attendants. She was cheer- 
ful and pre-occupied, so that she had omitted to 
notice the dulness and sorrowful expression of her 
daughter-in-law, who went through her directions 
slowly and mechanically. 

Presently a slight noise was heard below, and the 
younger lady started to her feet, and listening atten- 
tively, desired the youngest of the black girls to 
run and see if the master had returned home, for 
she said, " I think I hear his footstep downstairs." 

" He is coming up, Sitt," exclaimed the messen- 
ger, returning from the door with alacrity, for the 
Bey was at his heels. "Shall I tell them to get 
coffee ? His Honour went out so early this morning, 
and took no coffee." 

"Yes, yes, child, go, and be quick," replied her 
mistress ; and as she spoke the young man entered 
the apartment where his mother was sitting, and 
greeted her as usual affectionately, but with an 
absence of manner which immediately struck her; 
his face had a gloomy expression, and his step was 
slow. His wife had risen and come into the room, 
but she did not share his mother's surprise, as she 
had already reason to know there was something 
wrong. He flung himself on the divan without 
speaking, and while the mother stood looking at 
him with dismay and curiosity contending in her 



32 BEHIND THE CURTAIN. 

features, the younger woman knelt on a cushion at 
his feet, and gazed at him with wistful tenderness. 
Zohrab made an effort to recover his composure, 
and putting his hand lightly on the silky brown 
tresses, smiled sadly at her, and then at his mother, 
and then took his wife's hands and placed them both 
upon his knee. Still she did not speak, but waited 
and watched. 

" Tell us what is wrong, my son ; light of my eyes ! 
who has been troubling thee ? " exclaimed his mother, 
the tears coming in other eyes. 

" Alas ! " said he, " I must leave you both. It is 
as I feared yesterday ; I must go away ! " 

The mother threw herself beside him on the sofa, 
groaning, and hid her face in the pillows. " It is 
very hard mother, and you my sweet love ! " 

" Oh, my Zohrab, my love ; oh, my life, how can I 
bear it ; how can I lose thee ? " sobbed the young wife, 
breaking down at the tender words. She generally 
used the title of respect in speaking to her husband 
before others, and always in speaking of him, but 
now in her agitation she could not recollect that his 
mother was by, and kept on repeating every epithet 
that affection and sorrow brought to her lips, regard- 
less of every one else. **My little wife, my poor 
child, do not cry so, and hurt your sweet eyes ; God 
is great," said Zohrab, stroking the trembling hands 
still resting on his knee. At this moment the black 
guardian of the hareem, who was also the confidential 



BEHIND THE CURTAIN, 33 

servant of its master, entered the anteroom, and 
asked leave to speak to the Bey. 

" Come in, Osman," said he, rousing himself. 

"Your Honour is going to travel so soon that I 
had better put up your things, I think," said Osman. 

" The Bey going to travel !" exclaimed the mother 
starting from the sofa as if she had not been weeping 
on that very account. " It cannot be, Osman; surely 
it cannot be ! " 

" I will tell thee all about it, dear mother. Go 
Osman, and tell those chattering donkeys outside to 
go away. Do you not see they are gathering round 
and listening as well as talking? Send them to their 
business, and give them enough to do to keep them 
out of my way. Then return, and I will give some 
further directions." 

The grotesque-looking but faithful "Aga" (as these 
guardians of the hareem are generally called in Egypt) 
bowed and withdrew, driving the troop of grinning 
black women before him, and drawing the curtains 
after him. 

" Now, my son," said Sitt Fatmeh, sitting up and 
composing herself, " tell me what is coming upon us, 
and what evil eye has lighted on our house? (God 
and the prophet keep us from harm)." 

Ain el Hayat had meantime risen from her lowly 
posture, and going to the various entrances of the room 
ascertained that all the slaves were gone to another 
part of the house by the arrangement of Osman, who 

D 



34 BEHIND THE CURTAIN. 

already knew his master's reason for wishing no one to 
overhear what he had to tell. She quickly returned and 
took her place beside her husband, who held a hand 
of each of his beloved ones, as he began his recital. 

" Those fools are all out of earshot now ? that is 
well, for not a bird of the air must hear us speak," 
said he, as his wife looked at him in breathless 
anxiety. " Listen, both of you," he continued, " some 
enemy has been at work for several days. I suspected 
this, but would not speak till matters were more sure. 
I feared I had an enemy with his Highness, who, since 
my father's death last year, has continued to me the 
favour he had for him. Well, you heard of those 
disturbances in the Upper Province among the pea- 
sants who rebelled on account of some taxes ? " 

" Yes, we heard," said Ain El Hayat ; " I never 
breathed a word on the subject to any person living," 
he went on ; " for though I pitied the peasants in my 
heart, as we all know how the officials are wont to 
oppress them, and take more than the due money in 
order to fill their own pockets, still I am not such 
a fool as to encourage anything of rebellion. I had 
no more to do with the affair than you had, of course ; 
the disturbance was no great affair ; it was quickly put 
down by government, and a few of the leaders banished 
to the White Nile." 

" But, my son," interrupted his mother, " who could 
think that you were engaged in such matters ? Light 
of my eyes, faithful son of a faithful father, what can 
they say against you ? " 



IBEHIND THE CURTAIN. 35 

"Alas! my mother, who can stand before envy ? no 
devil is worse. There is a man who has long envied 
me the favour of our ruler ; my estate in the upper 
province is, as it happens, only a few miles from that 
village in which the peasants who rebelled first met. 
It was said by this man (or rather by persons he 
doubtless paid well for their falsehoods) that some of 
my peasants had joined the rebels; and though it was 
found that no proof existed of this, it was further 
alleged that I had incited them to the aflfair. It rests 
solely on the accusation of a jealous enemy; but it 
takes time to prove the contrary, as every one knows. 
I wrote two days ago, when I first heard, through a 
faithful friend, of the plot that was getting up against 
me, to the Sheikh of my own village to make him 
write down my peasants' names; two only were absent, 
he writes, on business of their own in Boulac, to sell 
some corn. But . the Sheikh of the other village 
swears that this is a subterfuge, and that these men 
were among the insurgents — of course he is bribed 
by — ^'^ he paused, and looked round cautiously. 
. His mother sprang to her feet at that instant, and 
looking taller than usual from the long white robe she 
wore trailing on the ground, while her dilated eyes 
and knitted brow made her seem like an incensed py- 
thoness of old, "Tell me his name," she exclaimed, in 
a sort of loud whisper, hissing out the words with 
terrible emphasis; "who is he? that I may curse him 
with ten thpusand curses J' ^ 



36 BEHIND THE CURTAIN. 

"Hush, mother, hush, be not so violent, some one 
might hear. I dare not name him save in a whisper, 
and you must not repeat the name, or things will 
fare worse with me." 

Bending his head so that his mother was forced to 
stoop in order to hear, he whispered the name "Ahmed 
Mohammed Fehmy,'* all common names enough, but 
the union of the three showed the person intended, 
the last being the name of the father, and only used to 
distinguish him from the many other Ahmeds and 
Mohammeds. The ladies know him by report, of 
course, only, for it is hardly needful to observe that 
they could never have seen any of the acquaintances 
of the gentlemen of the family ; but they know his 
history and character nearly as well as if they had 
seen him, possibly better, for actions tell often more 
of the truth than looks and words. He was a Bey 
like Zohrab, but several years older. He had long been 
jealous that the superior attainments and remarkable 
intelligence of the younger man had made him rise 
quickly even in a country where, alas ! education and 
good sense had too frequently " knocked under," as 
the phrase is, to flattery and cunning. Besides this, 
another cause of ill-feeling had arisen on the marriage 
of Zohrab, nearly two years ago : Ahmed had, through 
a powerful friend, requested the favour of the hand of 
one of the Princess's band of favourite maidens 
whom she called her daughters, and expected to be 
at least as fortunate as the younger man, instead of 



BEHIND THE CURTAIN. 37 

which he met with a polite refusal. The fact had 
been that the princess, who managed to know everyr 
thing, h^d learned that he had a disagreeable, vulgar 
mother who annoyed the two wives he already had, 
and also she preferred giving her pets to those who 
were not previously married. 

All these details had reached the hareem long 
before ; for one might almost put as a motto on the 
mysterious curtain, " All gossip may freely enter here," 
mankind may be excluded, but gQSsip is as clever at 
finding entrance as the midge. 

When, therefore, the ladies heard the name of this 
man, their faces grew dark at once, and, for a minute, 
both remained silent ; then the wife timidly asked, 
" What have they decreed for my lord ? is it banish- 
ment .? " . 

" The traitor ! the liar ! '* said the Bey, in a low 
but indignant voice, his eyes flashing as he spoke, 
"wants to have me banished to the White Nile. 
But it is uncertain, and I hope he will fail.'* 

The White Nile ! Is there any one who has long 
lived in Egypt who has not learned to turn pale at 
that dreaded name ? Is there a native who does not 
secretly, if not openly, shudder at the words } for it 
means that the culprit (often a suspected man, but 
not a guilty one — sometimes one who is known to 
be really innocent of any offence but some trifling 
error, but has the misfortune to be obnoxious to one 
of those in power) is sent nominally to the far in- 



38 BEHIND THE CURTAIN. 

terior, whence the White Nile has its hidden springs, 
but, in reality, to be taken beyond the reach of rescue 
or sympathy, and secretly put to death. It is a well- 
known saying, " from the White Nile no one comes 
back." The mystery and concealment seem to make 
this sentence more terrible than ordinary sentences 
of death, as one might expect. What wonder that 
the fear of it drove the unhappy mother of Zohrab 
almost to desperation ! 

The oriental temperament may be compared to 
the Mediterranean sea. When calm, it is very calm, 
peaceful as a child's slumber, smooth as glass; but 
when excited by rain and wind, in one moment it is 
turned to frantic rage, and the waves lash the shore 
as if in madness. Sitt Fatmeh drew herself to her 
full height, and she was rather above the average (for 
Turkish women are usually rather short), and tore the 
kerchief from her head without speaking. She flung 
it under her feet and trampled on it, and then, utter- 
ing a succession of sharp short cries, she burst forth 
in a perfect torrent of curses and abuse in the tongue 
of her childhood, mingled with invocations in Arabic 
(which was the religious language to her). Thick and 
fast proceed the words of unrestrained frenzy and 
grief, and she tore out whole handfuls of her hair, and 
danced, or, one might more properly say, jumped up 
and down, slapping her own cheeks and breast with 
such vehemence that the sound echoed through the 
wide apartment, Ain el Hayat, more gentle in nature, 



BEHIND THE CURTAIN, 39 

though equally distressed, sat on the floor, rocking 
herself to and fro, and sobbing bitterly with her face 
hidden in her hands, but not uttering a word, except 
the occasional cry, " Oh, God, my husband!" 

After a minute or two, however, all the man was 
roused in Zohrab, and he quickly began to exert his 
authority to tranquillise the noisy grief, which was so 
unwise under the circumstances. 

" Mother, for God's sake, be quiet ; wouldst thou 
destroy me ? Stop at once, I say. Ain el Hayat, be 
still, child ; don't cry so, but listen to me, I have 
much to say, and the time is short, and you become 
thus like two mad persons. Be quiet, in God's name!" 

He spoke rather sternly, but less would not have 
restrained them, and making a strong effort, both 
tried to check themselves, and sat down on each side 
of him, each holding and kissing one of his hands. 

" There now, my mother ; there, my little wife ; 
enough; listen calmly now. Recollect nothing is yet 
decided. My brother-in-law, as you know, is an 
excellent man, and he, and some friends, for I have 
some good friends, are working for me." 

" God bless them ! " murmured the poor wife. 

"They tell me," continued Zohrab, "that by the 
help of God, it may be better than my fears, as they 
are trying to get a private order of banishment for a 
year from his Highness, in the shape of a mere/^r- 
tnission to travel for such a time, do you see ? It is 
really a banishment, but I shall be saved the disgrace 



40 BEHIND THE CURTAIN. 

of a public sentence entirely, and my life will be 
safe, if I can get away unknown to my enemy and 
his spies ; for Ahmed is quite capable of assassination 
if he thinks his plot likely to fail. My sister, whom I 
saw last night, thinks her husband will succeed, 
because the chief Eunuch is his friend, and he has, as 
we all know, a good deal of influence." 

'* But, oh ! my Zohrab, you must not delay in any 
case," said Ain el Hayat, in a questioning voice. 

'*No, we have arranged that, between the fear of 
Ahmed's plot succeeding and the danger of his haying 
me secretly murdered on my way, if he fails in his 
rage. My brother-in-law advises my going to his 
house to-night, in the disguise of a female slave ; he 
is preparing, through his confidential steward, what is 
necessary, especially the black paint. If we have the 
paper we hope for ready and signed to-night or to- 
morrow, I may then leave by the train quietly, but 
the disguise may be no longer needful, as it could not 
be known that I was in that house, and I could go by 
a night or early morning train ; we can settle details 
afterwards. If, on the contrary, our fears — I mean 
worst, you know — are realised, I must keep the negress 
dress and go with some trusty aga to Alexandria as a 
slave on her way to some lady's hareem. Do not fear, 
mother; by the prophet's help, all will be carried 
through. My sister is, at all events, to be here this 
morning at noon as if to pay you a visit." 

" Now, Ain el Hayat, don't begin crying again, my 



BEHIND THE CURTAIN. 4I 

dearest ; do as I tell thee, my life ;" and he held a 
handkerchief to the streaming eyes. 

" I will, I will be calm, my love and my lord,'* said 
the poor young creature, struggling for composure. 

** Well, you and my mother must receive Nezleh 
just as usual, do you see? Spies may be about; who 
can say ? She has told her own household that you 
are about to send a newly-purchased slave with her 
on trial for a day or two in the hareem, as is so often 
done in families of relations ; and then I can return 
with the train after dark in the disguise. But be 
calm, my dear wife," he added, tenderly kissing the 
pale cheek that rested on his shoulder. 

" Oh, my lord, my life, how can I ever live without 
you } why not let me go with you? I could also dress 
as a slave. I would go anywhere and do anything to 
be with my love ! " 

" Go to Europe ! A Mohammedan lady go where 
there are no true believers ; go among infidels ! " ex- 
claimed her mother-in-law. ** Now, Ain el Hayat, I 
did not think I had a fool for a daughter-in-law ! " 

Her son held his wife's hand and looked at her, 
evidently sorely tempted to yield to her request. 

" I could get her European dress at Alexandria," 
said he, " I know a European lady here, indeed, who 
would help us in any way, even go with her to the 
ship if necessary.** 

" Oh, so do I," said Ain el Hyat. " My lord means 
the Sitt Irene, who was here the other day." 



42 BEHIND THE CURTAIN. 

But the imploring looks of the two young people 
met with no sympathy from the older lady ; old 
habits and time-honoured customs had hardened 
around her like plaster of Paris ; you might break 
the mould to pieces, but as to altering its shape, the 
time for that was gone ! She seemed almost to forget 
her grief and terror for the moment in her displeasure 
at this new idea. 

" What notions are these, my son ? What folly is 
entering your head, to think of your wife being seen 
by infidels, and go about without a veil ? Such a 
thought is too frightful to entertain it a single 
moment ; better she should die a hundred deaths." 

To offend a mother is no light thing to a man of 
any respectability and good feeling in the East, and, 
besides, her son felt that her displeasure would injure 
his youthful wife hopelessly in the eyes of all their 
friends and family. So he gave up the wild idea 
(though it had been very sweet for a moment) of 
thinking that the woman who belonged to him as his 
companion and helpmeet might have been with him 
in his journey to foreign lands. 

" Now before we speak again we must eat," said 
he, trying to smile, " for we are all exhausted, and I 
see it is late (looking at his watch). Call the women, 
mother, to bring breakfast." 

She clapped her hands directly. 

" You must both take some food or you will be ill," 
he continued, " and try to be as usual ; our slaves are 



BEHIND THE CURTAIN, 43 

I hope faithful, but they gossip on the roofs with 
other slaves, and who knows what may be said ? " 

As he ceased speaking a black woman entered with 
a small round table, a few inches high only, which 
she put in the middle of the room, and a second 
followed her with a large metal tray of savoury little 
dishes, which she put upon it, and the three took 
their places on the carpet she had previously laid for 
therii, and endeavoured to eat, though sorrow made it 
difficult, but each tried to swallow a few morsels, to 
induce the others to do so. The melancholy meal 
did not last long, and the Bey having had water 
poured on his hands from the silver Ibreek (a vessel 
with a long spout made for that purpose), while a 
white slave held the basin and embroidered towel, 
desired his wife to come and assist him in his private 
toom, where he had papers and other matters to 
arrange, while his mother went to give orders for a 
dinner to be prepared against the arrival of her 
daughter. A hareem visit generally means great part 
of the day, and if a relative, includes children and two 
or three slaves ; so the negresses had enough to do, 
and were kept out of the way for some hours. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE DISGUISE. 

MOTHERS and daughters, or other relatives, 
do not quite so frequently visit one another 
as with us, when there is the cumbrous arrangement 
of hareem life to be disturbed for the expedition, the 
face veiling, and the robing and dressing, and more 
than all the moving, to those used to spend so 
large a portion of their time in sitting still. Never- 
theless, visits are not so rare as to excite actual 
suspicion, and though only two months ago, Sitt 
Nezleh and all her tribe had been to see her mother 
right at the other end of the city, still she did not 
think it needful to do more than express her deter- 
mination early in the morning, and get her party 
under weigh. The old days of the picturesque 
hareem donkeys, as they were called, with their rich 
carpets spread over the high stuffed saddles, and the 
fair riders muffled in their disguising mantles and 
veils, with feet put into short stirrups, mounted 
astride on the top, and carefully guided through the 
thoroughfares in single file — generally, a set of 
negresses in white robes and veils winding up the 



THE DISGUISE. 45 



cortege — had already nearly passed away at the date 
of our tale ; some might yet be seen, but not among 
the ladies of the highest class hareems, and carriages 
become every year more in vogue, even where the 
streets are far too narrow to make them safe or con- 
venient. Soon after noon, the family of Mohammed 
Fuad drove up to the door of Zohrab's house in two 
carriages. Neyleh was a few years older than her 
brother, and looked more, having been married twelve 
or thirteen years at least, and would soon be thinking 
about a bridegroom for her eldest girl ; she was a pretty 
woman still, however, and very pleasant and amiable, 
and greatly attached to this her only brother. Her 
husband, in spite of great difference of age, for he 
was a man of forty, and Zohrab only twenty-six, pre- 
ferred him to any other companion and looked on 
him quite as a brother. He was at this very time 
doing his utmost to counteract the mischief the 
ienemy had been brewing against him. 

The lady was duly received with the customary 
embraces and salutations; no signs of grief were 
allowed to appear before the crowd of slaves, only 
sundry looks and nods between mother and daughter 
when the face-veils were removed. They wore the 
delicate fine musUn yashmaks of the Turkish ladies, 
being of Turkish, or rather, Circassian race, and the 
rich flowing pelisse of coloured merino which prevails 
in Constantinople, instead of tiie black silk robe of 
halive Egyptian ladies. Under these outer garments 



46 THE DISGUISE. 



appeared the white cambric or fine linen usually worn 
as a summer dress in hareems, when it is not a suffi- 
ciently ceremonial visit to make the festive brocades 
and satins absolutely necessary. Sitt Nezleh had 
wisely left her older children at home on this occa- 
sion with the head of her household, a white slave 
capable of acting housekeeper. In general, on all 
family visits in the East, the mother drags her whole 
brood with her, with the negress attendants of the 
younger ones, so that the rooms in hot weather are 
needlessly oppressive from the numbers. (I have 
counted fifty black slaves and at least as many 
babies, besides a swarm of children of different ages 
at a party which, lasting till late at night, was only 
fit for grown persons.) 

The lady had made some excuse for departing 
from ordinary usage on this day, and I am afraid 
made up one or two little stories about it to pacify 
her small daughters and seven year old son, for in the 
monotonous life of a hareem, any sort of " outing " is 
greatly prized by children of course. But she took 
the youngest boy, as not only would he have screamed 
the whole day if left behind, but the circumstance 
would attract notice, for he was the special pet of the 
household, and, moreover, was too young to overhear 
and repeat things. He was not an agreeable visitor 
certainly, being dreadfully troublesome in poking into 
every room and discovering that his uncle's things 
were in disorder, and that his pretty aunt would not 



THE DISGUISE, 47 

play with him, asking precocious questions of every 
one, and worrying his grandmother almost past en- 
durance, till happily the arrival of dinner stopped 
his mouth. The slaves then took care to stuff the 
youthful Ismael till, between pastry and the heat of 
the day, he was hors de combat^ and fell asleep, to the 
general relief, on a divan, while the anxious circle 
began to discuss their affairs in peace. 

"Brother," said Nezleh, " now that the little demon 
there is quiet, we must begin to disguise you at once ; 
yes, truly, though it is yet early, the paint must have 
time to dry ; besides, if Ismael wakes he will not leave 
me a moment's peace. It is now "Asser" (about 
half-past three or four o'clock). Come, sister, do not 
begin to cry, we shall cry when he is gone." 

" What ! do / feel nothing ? Is not Zohrab my 
flesh and blood } Did I not love him from the hour 
of his birth, when I was but four years old, and my 
mother said, * Behold thy brother, Nezleh ; see what 
God has sent thee ! ' What is like a brother, child 
of the same mother ? " (wiping a few tears as she 
spoke, as if to show that preaching was easier than 
practice). 

Ain El Hayat felt that, although the tie of brother 
and sister, when both have the same mother, is usually 
stronger than that of marriage, which is so lightly 
dissolved, and so often shared with others, with 
Moslems, yet that, in her case, it was not the ordinary 
thing; and that to her, poor waif who had never 



48 THE DISGUISE. 



known any tie of blood save the faint, dim recollection 
of an old woman she believed to have been her 
grandmother, Zohrab was most emphatically everything 
in the world. Had she ever heard the touching words 
of Andromache, she might well have applied them to 
herself. She was too gentle to be hurt, however, and 
only pressed the hand of her sister-in-law in silence, 
and looked at her husband, whose answering glance 
spoke eloquently enough, and made her eyes overflow 
again, while Nezleh continued, unpacking a myste- 
rious-looking parcel as she spoke, " If my heart is not 
bitter, whose can be ? May God and his holy prophet 
punish the enemies of my beloved Zohrab, brother 
of my soul 1 " and she struck her own face with a 
resounding slap that turned it quite red. 

"Compose yourself, dear sister,'* said Zohrab 
patting her shoulder affectionately; "we shall per- 
haps be overheard, and you may wake the boy 
Show me this ; it is the paint in a bottle, I think." 

" Yes," she answered, " you must call Osman ; he 
will do the work better than we. It is not the first 
time he has disguised people. He lived, you know, 
formerly in that hareem of— ha, ha, ha ! No, brother, 
I will name no names, nor tell bad stories either, do 
not fear. I know you are so careful for your little 
rose there to hear no gossiping tales. So, Osman, 
here you are. Take this brush, and go into the inner 
room ; I will keep near the door. Only face and 
hands ; make him as like yourself as you can." 



THE DISGUISE. 49 



The man grinned at the last words, but then 

relapsed quickly into a sorrowful expression as he 

glanced at his master's sad expression, and they both 

withdrew. He took care to blacken only the outside 

of the hands thickly, and to leave the inside and the 

nails only of a faint dusky hue. The face was made 

quite black, and as soon as it was dry the ladies were 

summoned to put on the dress. The painting and 

drying had occupied a good deal of time, so that it 

was not too soon to put on the rest of the disguise, 

as directly the sun set they were to start. A white 

cotton mantle and face-veil were adjusted over the 

coloured calico trousers and skirt, and the dress was 

then complete. The height, for he was a well-sized 

man, was not such an inconvenience as might have 

been supposed, because the negresses from certain 

tribes are exceedingly tall, and look much like men in 

petticoats. The short fat ones are certainly more 

numerous, but the black Amazons arc not so rare as to 

excite any surprise or notice. Nezleh then began to talk 

loudly about going home, and her mother, though 

dying to have them away, and fearing every instant 

to hear the step of an officer of justice, was forced to 

make the usual feint of wishing to delay the party, as 

the omission of it would have been a piece of rudeness 

which must excite the attention of the slaves. At 

last they were got under weigh, the older lady, with 

considerable self-possession, calling out at the head of 

the stairs, " Take the new slave who has just come, 

£ 



50 THE DISGUISE, 



with yoii, daughter, and keep her a day or two, to see 
if she is likely to suit me, before I pay down the 
money." The house slaves were under the impression 
that this woman must have arrived with the visitor, 
as she had brought several with her, and they had not 
all been there ; most, indeed, had been in the 
kitchen, except the Circassians, who were all trusted 
with the affair. The slaves of Nezleh, on the 
other hand, took it for granted that this new- 
comer had been in the house before they came, 
and returned with them to be proved, as is a 
common practice among ladies in Egypt. So the plan 
was quite successful ; the boab or doorkeeper, indeed, 
did remark to Osman, as he locked the outer door, that 
he had not heard anything of his mistress buying a 
new slave. 

" Sitt Fatmeh may buy her or she may not," replied 
Osman oracularly ;" but it is my idea that she is only 
looking at her for a friend in Alexandria who needs 
one. It is, however, my lady's affair. I fancy the 
woman is stupid, and will not suit our hareem at 
any rate. 

The party drove off in the carriages which were pre- 
pared for them, and no news reached the anxious 
wife and mother that night They could scarcely 
close their eyes, and before dawn were again on foot, 
weary, yet sleepless. The faint light of dawn had just 
appeared when one of the slaves, peeping cautiously 
•into the room where they were sadly seated together. 



THE DISGUISE, 5^ 



whispered that the aga of Sitt Nezleh had come. He 
was instantly called in, of course, and informed them, 
to their intense relief that his master had succeeded 
in obtaining the paper, with the desired permission to 
travel, which, with a hint to let the young Bey be off 
as soon as possible, had been given him at mid 
night. 

"It was a hard matter," said the servant. "My 
master says that Ahmed Bey had sent to his Honour's 
estate and caught the two peasants who had been 
missing at the enrolling, and had the poor fellows 
tortured." 

Ain el Hayat groaned and turned deadly pale ; but 
the mother said, "Hush, child, we must hear all ; go on, 
Ibraheem Aga." 

" Well," continued the man, " my ladies, the poor 
men were honest and bore as long as they could, and 
denied the lies of those villains, but one fainted away, 
and became too ill to speak, and the other got de- 
lirious and raved, and said anything and everything. 
They tried to make out that he had confessed, being 
bribed high, of course ; but the moment he got out of 
their cruel hands, what do you think he did ? The 
prophet inspired him truly ; he sent off his son, a fine 
young man, by the new railway that is just open, you 
know. He had come the first part of the way by a 
government steamer whose captain knows his honour, 
Zohrab Bey, well ; so by this means he reached Cairo 
before the messenger of that friend who wishes to 



52 THE DISGUISE. 



destroy my lord, could arrive; he was just two hours 
in advance of him, by God's grace." 

" Thank God," cried both the ladies, with tears of 
joy at this recital. 

" It is, therefore, settled, " the servant continued, 
" as we wish, but the chief minister being friendly to 
Ahmed Bey, his H-ighness wished to avoid scandal, 
and have the affair got over quietly; and, indeed, my 
master says Zohrab Bey is better out of the way till 
this minister is no longer in power, or till Ahmed is 
out of favour; it will not be long, he says, please God, 
and then all will be right again. Now you are both to 
go to my ladies' hareem as soon as you can to take 
leave of his honour who is to start by the train at 
eight o'clock by the frank time. You have no time 
to lose, therefore, ladies.*' 

" Quick, quick, girls! bring my veil and all the rest 
of my things ; fly, and lose not a moment," cried 
the mother ; " and the aga must drink a cup of coffee 
while we dress. Now, you girls, what are you about?" 
and with most unwonted activity the good lady 
got ready. Her daughter-in-law, at the first word, had 
flown to her room and snatched up her dress; she was 
ready before the aga had swallowed his tiny cup of 
scalding coffee, and in a few minutes they were with 
one of the white slaves, seated in the carriage he had 
brought and driving through the city. 

It was still early when they reached the house 
of Sitt Fatmeh's daughter and son-in-law, when 



THE DISGUISE. 53 

they were most affectionately received and at once 
conducted to a room where the Bey awaited them, no 
longer in his disguise, as it was thought that he might 
now venture to travel in his own person, especially as 
he was going off* so quickly, and that no one except 
his own special friends, not even his slaves, except 
those who could be thoroughly relied on^as his faith- 
ful Osman, his nurse, and the white slaves brought up 
in the family, who had known and loved him from 
infancy — had the least idea that he was going to leave 
the city. The time passed only too quickly, and it 
was necessary to say the last farewell : but while Ain 
el Hayat was yet clinging to her husband's neck, he 
whispered, "Thou canst read, my love, I shall write 
to thee, and see here " — putting out a little note- 
book — " tell me the name of this dear lady who loves 
thee so much, I mean her second name ; yes, 
Hillyard, I recollect now ; " writing it down as he 
spoke. " Now if I want to send a few words for thine 
eyes only, my love, I can send it through her. I do 
not distrust my good secretary, observe ; but if he 
were ill or absent, or if some spy were to interfere, 
the English lady is a safe person ; and I can write 
under cover to her.*' 

** Oh, my Zohrab, thou art as wise as good ! it is 
some comfort to think of reading words this dear 
hand writes; thank God for letting me learn to 
read." 

Bidding his weeping relatives take care of his lovely 



54 THE DISGUISE. 



wife for his sake, the Bey put her into their arms half 
fainting, and striving to conceal the anguish that 
wrung his own heart, hurried down-stairs, and in a 
few minutes was on his way, in company with his 
secretary, who was to see him on board the ship, and 
a faithful Nubian lad, who was to be his attendant in 
France, whither for the present he was bound. 



CHAPTER V. 

THE GREEK SLAVE. 

THE life of hareem ladies can hardly be favourable 
to good health even under the happiest circum- 
stances. They rarely take exercise, properly so called ; 
in these days indeed, many are permitted to drive out, 
but only in shut-up carriages, but even that poor kind 
of exercise is not partaken of by a large number who 
are accustomed to the old-fashioned style of living ; 
some pass years without crossing their own threshold. 
A lady (a native Christian, but one whose family kept 
up the old habits of seclusion which the Moslems 
seem to have introduced when they came into posses- 
sion centuries ago) actually lived within a mile and a 
half of the great river Nile, and had attained middle 
age without having ever seen it, nor, as she expressed 
no particular wish to do so, is it likely that she ever 
beheld those waters on which her country depends for 
its fertility, but probably died without quitting her 
voluntary prison, for in her case it was not compul- 
sory. Most of the wealthier establishments have 
some sort of garden certainly, and not a few have 
very good gardens even in the heart of the town, but 



56 THE GREEK SLA VE. 

the languid habits of their life are such that the ladies 
rarely walk ; they prefer to sit in a verandah and 
" smell the air," as they say, and the gardener brings 
roses, jasmin, and other flowers tied in somewhat stiff 
bouquets and hands to the slaves to present to them. 
The delight of strolling about to gather flowers for 
oneself, or picking oranges from the bough, though 
hanging in rich profusion within reach, hardly seems to 
occur to them, and some have been much diverted and 
r amazed at hearing that English ladies not only gather 
\ flowers for themselves, but even like to cultivate them 
and to pull up weeds, rake beds, and cut off dead 
blossoms, with their own hands. Labour of any sort 
is looked on by these caged birds of women, as a 
thing for those compelled to it by poverty or dire 
necessity of some kind, never as a voluntary thing, 
still less as one which sweetens the life of man, when 
not in excess, more than all the luxuries of idleness 

\^ and wealth. 

] Slavery has no doubt much to do with this con- 

tempt for work, but the languor of an inactive and 
purposeless existence perhaps does more. They wander 
listlessly from room to room, or sit for hours smoking 
till the head must become more or less stupefied by 
the fumes of tobacco, though it is certainly a lighter 
kind than that in use in Europe, and never seem to 
think of roaming about in the garden, even in the 
most delightful weather. When the soft breeze of 
early morning is waving the fragrant orange blossoms 



THE GREEK SLA VE, $7 

and the little birds gaily hopping about the hanging 
wreaths of the Sitt el Hosn, (or lady of beauty), a 
favourite Egyptian creeper, with its delicate lilac 
flowers, the sun shining cheerfully through the willow 
boughs, where the turtle dove is cooing to his mate — 
and everything ^eems to say, " Come out, come out, 
and enjoy the beauty of the Great Creator's works ! 
What silk and damask, what gold and jewels are so 
fair as the garden in early morning in this sunny 
land ? What perfumes made by man are so sweet 
as the flowers bathed in dew ? 

" But," say they, "we live as we are accustomed ; " 
and they do not know the cause of the wearinesiS 
often to be seen on their faces, or of the frequent 
headaches and other ailments to which they are 
subject. 

"What do you do all day long?" an English lady 
once asked a friend in a hareem — a person of more 
than average intelligence, be it said — who often 
complained of headache, and was stouter than was 
natural at her age, for she was then at most only 
two or three-and-thirty. 

" Why," she answered, " I go and sit on that \ 
divan yonder, and then come here and sit upon this 
one a while," shrugging her shoulders as she spoke. 

The only diversion, except occasional visits from 
relatives or friends leading as narrow a life as them- 
selves, are the gossip and jokes of a low kind of 
female jester, one being usually a regular attendant 



58 THE GREEK SLA VE. 

in most hareems, and as she is of course a scandal- 
monger, as well as often full of vulgar and detestable 
jests, her influence over the young must be per- 
nicious in the extreme. 

Happy it was for the fair Ain el Hayat that her 
studies had not only occupied her mind but her time 
so much, and that her natural refinement had thus 
been aided. She was, therefore, as much above the 
average of young matrons in simplicity as intelli- 
gence. But no study could supply the need to the 
body of air and exercise. Like all reared in such an 
unnatural way, she was not very strong, and easily 
sank under grief or vexation into a feeble state of 
health. For several days after the Bey's departure 
she could neither eat nor sleep, except in a degree 
quite insufficient to . keep up an ordinary degree 
of strength, and every day found her paler and 
weaker, more dull and listless, than the previous 
one. Her mother-in-law was differently constituted ; 
she had cried, sobbed, scolded and wailed by turns 
for many hours after her son's departure, and then 
gradually returned to her usual state of placidity, only 
looking duller than her wont, certainly, and talking 
less, but still eating and sleeping as before. 

" If Ain el Hayat does not soon get better we really 
must send for the female doctor," she said to her chief 
maid, the sober and experienced Ayesha, a Circas- 
sian, who had been with her more than thirty years, 
and who would have been gray, only that she applied 



THE GREEK SLA VE, 59 

henna leaves (powdered and moistened) to her locks 
at proper intervals, so that they were tinged of a pale 
carrot colour. ** I felt her hand this morning/' con- 
tinued Sitt Fatmeh, " and it was so hot, I fancy she 
has a little fever. What is your thought, Ayesha ? " 

" We might give the young lady some cooling 
drink, certainly," replied the woman, "and the wise 
woman might come and bum incense and make a 
charm." 

" My son will not allow a wise woman to enter the 
house," said his mother, who, though not above 
superstitions of the kind herself, was thoroughly loyal 
to her son, and never did in his absence what she 
knew he greatly disapproved of. "If he were here, 
he would probably bring the doctor who cured him of 
that illness he had last winter ; but of course I could 
not do such a thing, especially as he is away. I 
would send for a barber to let a little blood indeed ; 
but she does not feel any headache, and blood-letting 
might not be good. We will send for Sitt Haanem, 
the doctor woman, and hear her opinion, I think, 
Ayesha." 

The slave quite approved, though she rather pre- 
ferred the sorceress herself. Still, if she were not to 
come, this t)crson was next best. The lady doctor j 
was, as may be supposed, tolerably ignorant, but/ 
most of her remedies were not likely to do much 
harm fortunately. So she was brought, and talked a 
great deal, and told many anecdotes of sick people. 



6o THE GREEK SLA VE. 

their odd symptoms and her prescriptions, which had 
the effect of entertaining the hareem. 

Unluckily, the patient was not the better, and after 
two days begged she might be sent away, saying, 
** She only tires me, and it makes me feel worse to 
have her sitting staring and watching me all the time." 
For the good woman, whenever she got a patient in so 
high a position, left the poorer ones to shift for them- 
selves, and took up her abode at the hareem, on the 
pretext of watching the precious invalid. Of course 
she had the privilege of sleeping on a nice sofa when- 
ever she liked, or on the mat with a pillow under her 
head, which in hot weather she liked even better ; of 
having a feast of fat things, such as her taste rejoiced 
in greatly, at every meal, and pipes or cigars at dis- 
cretion. Poor Sitt Haanem was therefore sorely dis- 
appointed, in spite of the handsome fee given her 
when she was told, on the third day, that the great 
lady had resolved to try change of air for the sick 
one, and that they were going to spend a few weeks 
at the nearest estate of the Bey. The plan had only 
occurred to Sitt Fatmeh when thinking what to do 
for her daughter-in-law when she perceived that the 
doctoress only worried her. She had never been at 
the farm herself except once, fifteen years before, 
when the Bey was a boy, though the distance was 
only four hours, and great part of the journey could 
be made in a carriage ; but so contented was she with 
her tortoise-like existence, that but for this illness 



THE GREEK SLA VE, 6 1 

she might have let fifteen more years pass without a 
visit to the country. 

When the plan was settled in her mind the good 
lady became much pleased with it, for another reason 
which occurred to her : a certain festival of im- 
portance was not far off, and it was sure to bring 
visitors to the hareem, relatives and acquaintances who 
hardly ever came, except at such times, would be 
calling and gossiping, and asking questions about 
the Bey's absence. It would be convenient to shut 
up the house, and leave only a couple of trusty 
servants beside the boab, who could reply to all 
inquiries, " Gone to the country for the young lady*s 
health." 

So she lost no time in sending a messenger to have 
the country house prepared, as though sufficiently 
spacious, it was, like most of these half-farm half-villa 
residences, merely built of mud-brick, and such 
become reservoirs of dust and habitations of vermin 
when long neglected. 

A troop of donkeys, laden with the rich carpets and 
cushions which form the chief part of Oriental 
furniture, together with cooking utensils and various 
necessaries, were instantly despatched, and as on 
occasion the slaves, usually rather lazy and remiss, can 
work hard for a short time, everything was arranged 
with surprising quickness, and the following day 
rather early in the afternoon, the ladies set out, so as 
to arrive about sunset. The last hour's journey had 



62 THE GREEK SLAVE. 

Xo be made on donkeys, which had been provided to 
meet the carriages, for the road went no farther, the 
raised pathway above the fields being unsafe for any- 
thing but riding, and even that had to be managed 
with caution, the watercourses being frequent, and 
only roughly bridged over with reeds and dried mud. 

The invalid, however, bore the unwonted fatigues 
better than was expected, and seemed not at all 
worse than when they started, except for the natural 
weariness, which made her glad to lie down. 

The apartment arranged for her had been made as 
comfortable as circumstances allowed, and as tasteful 
as a room carpeted with the exquisite productions of 
the Persian and Damascus looms must always look. 
An Englishwoman would have adorned it with 
flowers, but as yet the Easterns, though delighting in 
them, especially if fragrant, do not care to have 
flowers in their rooms or as an ornament, they hold a 
bunch in the hand, or put some blossoms in their 
heads, and throw away when withered, but plants in 
pots, or blossoms in vases, are not to be seen unless 
among the few who have adopted some European 
tastes. 

The divan was spread with a richly embroidered 
cover, and the cushions with snowy calico of the 
finest texture, which made the room look fresh and 
clean, and a heavy curtain, a little faded, but still 
gorgeous, concealed the rough plastered wall 
opposite the latticed windows ; an elderly woman, 



THE GREEK SLA VE. 63 

of fair complexion and rather tall, was dusting the 
place with a feather broom, though it looked spot- 
lessly neat already. 

On seeing the young lady and her attendants 
entering, she saluted her respectfully, and with a 
grave quiet manner, quite unlike the usual profuse 
compliments and smiling salutations of the peasants 
on the arrival of their superiors ; yet though her 
complexion as well as her manners betokened a 
" white slave/' her dress was the common dark blue 
linen robe of the country women, only distinguished 
by being cleaner than their garb usually is, on 
account of their rough and dirty work. After 
presenting the ladies with lemon sherbet, which she 
had evidently prepared to meet them on their arrival, 
this person again saluted them silently and withdrew. 

" Morgiana ! " said Ain el Hayat, addressing one 
of the older slaves, who generally acted as cook, 
"this sherbet is delicious, it is much better than 
what we drink in Cairo ! " 

"The lemons are fresh, lady," replied the negress. 

" Ah, but it is better made also, and peasants are 
usually stupid. What nice manners that woman has 
too ! Can you tell me who she is ? Go and inquire." 

Morgiana presently came back and informed her 
young mistress that the woman was called Zobeide, 
and was the widow of a former bailiff or steward to 
the farm, and that she lived with the present, who was 
her brother-in-law, and was very useful to his wife. 



64 THE GREEK SLA VE. 

who had a large family, as she was very clever about 
little children, and a famous nurse to the sick. "When 
any one here has a fever or meets. with an accident," 
continued Morgiana, " they try to coax or even bribe 
the sister-in-law to let Zobeide come and take care 
of him, as she is really as good as any doctor they 
say." 

" If she is clever about the sick she may be able to 
think of something for my daughter-in-law," observed 
the older lady, " if she had some drink, for instance, 
to give an appetite." 

"Dear mother, you are very kind," said Ain el 
Hayat, languidly, "but it is sorrow of heart that is 
my malady ; only God can help me." 

"True, daughter, God is everything I know, but 
see — am I not sorry also? Who is like a mother? 
What is thy grief to mine ? Yet I eat, and do not 
cry all day. What is the good to Zohrab if he returns 
and finds us both dead? On the contrary, let him 
please God and the prophet " (the good woman very 
often put in the latter expression as if she thought 
the Almighty might possibly need a little help, in 
spite of her acknowledging that He was all powerful, 
so inconsistent is man's untaught heart), "let him 
please God and the prophet, come safe back, and find 
you fat and well and handsomer than ever, and will 
he not rejoice ? " 

Having delivered this little address Sitt Fatmeh 
began to tell over her beads, which were always in her 



THE GREEK SLAVE, 6$ 

hand or beside her. Like many elderly Moslem ladies 
the "tasbeh," or string of ninety-nine beads, was 
used somewhat like a Romanist's rosary. The words 
were rather devout epithets addressed to the Almighty 
than prayers properly so called, and were frequently 
muttered over during odd moments of the day as a 
sort of pious exercise. She had just got through a 
dozen or so of these muttered ejaculations when coffee 
was brought in, and she desired the black girl to call 
the before-mentioned white slave directly. 

Zobeide presently stood before her, waiting near 
the door with folded arms and in perfect silence, 
this being the Eastern way of expressing, " What did 
you please to want ? " She does not speak till she is 
either addressed or, what is commoner, receives a sign 
with the hand to come near and receive the order. 
"As the eyes of the maiden unto the hand of her 
mistress so do our ty^s wait upon the Lord " (P. 9). 

Zobeide was a person of at least fifty-eight or sixty 
years old, probably even older, but a vigorous con- 
stitution was shown in the upright figure, and firm, 
active, though quiet movements. Her features must 
have been handsome in youth, and the skin was still 
fair, and had evidently never been exposed to sun 
and wind in rough out-door labour ; but the counten- 
ance was almost devoid of expression, and had a 
singularly cold, hard indifference in the look of the 
eyes and mouth. Her gray hair was nearly concealed 
by a veil of clean fine white muslin wrapped round 

F 



66 THE GREEK SLAVE, 

the head and throat, instead of the kerchief of coarse 
black silk with a red and yellow border tied round 
the peasant women's heads. This was the only differ- 
ence in her dress, the outer veil of thin purplish black 
over head and shoulders, and the loose sleeved dark 
blue dress was, as before remarked, a common pea- 
sant's attire, but she was as evidently no peasant as 
she was no Egyptian. 

After looking at her for a few minutes while sipping 
her tiny cup of black coffee, Sitt Fatmeh beckoned to 
Zobeide to approach the sofa. " Come and see my 
daughter," said she. " I hear you are clever about 
the sick, and she has been ill ever since the Bey left us." 
Zobeide approached, and though her face remained 
as impassive as before, her manner was both respectful 
and kind as she took the soft delicate hand in hers, 
hardened by domestic work, and looked searchingly 
into the lovely eyes. After a minute's thought, she 
said, " The Sitt Ain el Hayat needs sleep very much ; 
she will have fever if she does not sleep." 

"The Prophet! Of course she will; that is just 
what has been troubling us so — she neither eats nor 
sleeps, as one may say, since the Bey went away. If 
you could give her something to enable her to relish 
her food — " 

" Sleep must come first," said Zobeide, not rudely, 
but with a gentle air of authority as an acknowledged 
sick nurse. " If the lady permits, I will prepare a 
drink which is made of herbs, perfectly harmless, b^t 



THE GREEK SLAVE. 67 

soothing and excellent in its effects. She v/ill, please 
God, sleep after it, and then you will see her eat to- 
morrow, at least better than before." 

" As you will,'* said the patient sadly ; " but, my 
good Zobeide, there is no cure for a sorrowful heart." 

The touching expression in the innocent, large 
brown eyes as she said this might have melted a 
marble figure, cis the saying is, but Zobeide looked as 
impassive as before, though she answered gently, 
" It will be best to try my drink, and your honour will 
get a little sleep to-night, at all events. If I have my 
lady's permission, I will go at once, before it is too 
dark, to gather the right herbs from the garden. The 
supper is now nearly ready; and in a couple of hours, 
or even less if you like, the medicine shall be brought." 
And receiving a sign from Sitt Fatmeh, she made the 
customary graceful salutation (touching the lips and 
forehead, and then the heart, very slightly and rapidly), 
and then departed. 

At the appointed time Ain el Hayat lay on the 
divan, in her flowing robe of white cambric, and a white 
muslin kerchief on her head, the long hair plaited in 
two loose plaits ; a small lamp alone gave a softened 
light to the otherwise dark room, and the old black 
nurse was seated on the floor, already nodding with 
sleep (for it was many a year since she had made such 
an expedition into the country), when Zobeide ap- 
peared at the door with the draught in a china bowl. 
The invalid drank it without the least hesitation, and 



68 THE GREEK SLAVE. 

then said some words of courteous thanks in her pretty 
kindly way as she returned the vessel to the woman. 
Her mother-in-law was substantially kind, both from 
a really kind heart and from motives of religion, but 
her manner to her inferiors was apt to be haughty, 
whereas the younger lady was noted among all the 
slaves for her gentleness and goodness, and was much 
beloved in consequence. Her words this evening, or 
the way in which they were spoken, touched Zobeide, 
or else, being alone with Ain el Hayat, she felt more 
free. There was a slight contraction of the eyebrows 
and a smile, though a very faint one, on the lips as 
she said, " Sleep, sweet lady ! Sorrow is not to be 
cured by medicine, indeed, but sleep makes it less 
hard. Sleep, then, and forget thy sorrows." She 
then touched the dozing negress on the shoulder, and 
whispered to her to be careful not to allow her mistress 
to be disturbed on any account after her potion, on 
which point the prudent daughter of Soudan acted 
at once by summoning another slave, who was made 
to sleep at the threshold of the door, while she her- 
self lay on the floor close to her young lady, who 
shortly fell into a profound slumber. 



CHAPTER VI. 

RAYS OF LIGHT. 

THE Abbadeeh of the Bey was not far from the 
little property of Irene Hillyard, and of course she 
soon learned, through the peasants, the arrival of the 
hareem, and, to her astonishment, that the Bey was 
not with them. One of her informants said he was 
gone to the Frank country because he was out of 
favour with the Government (this one came nearest 
the truth) ; another, that it was to see some French 
doctor; a third, that it was to change the air, or, 
as he expressed it Egyptian fashion, " to smell the 
air " out yonder — " as if there could be any air so good 
as that of Egypt ! '* he concluded, tossing his head 
jind sniffing the warm, pure air of the field whose 
stubble he was engaged in ploughing up with a very 
primitive plough, and pair of buffaloes. "At any 
rate, Sitt Irene," observed his wife, who was standing 
near, having been down to the Sakkea, or water- 
wheel, to help with the irrigation of the onion field — 
'* at any rate, the young lady is sick ; the boab told me 
so when I met him this morning at the market in the 
village, were he went to buy a store of tobacco and I 
know not what beside." 



70 J^AVS OF UGHT. 



" Never mind his purchases, Zanuba, tell me about 
Sitt Ain el Hayat ; is she so very ill, really ? " said 
Mrs. Hillyard, anxiously. 

" Nay, nothing serious ; I hope, in the Prophet's 
name, that the eye has not fallen upon her ! ** 

" I believe you fear the eye, which is all nonsense, 
more than God," cried the lady, rather impatiently ; 
" but, go on, tell me about the young lady." 

" Well, it seems she fretted herself sick when 
the Bey left, and they got a doctor woman in Cairo, 
who made her worse rather than better, so the great 
lady Mashalla — she is clever ! — said a change to the 
peasants* country was better for health than medicine, 
and truly it is good air here." 

" That is so, Zanuba. Now let your boy Hassan go 
and call Mr. Girgas, and say I want him to call at the 
Bey*s place for me, to inquire for the sick lady. Tell 
him to see Osman the aga himself, not merely that 
chattering boab, and to say, if not inconvenient, I 
would call this afternoon, when the heat is less" (it was 
early in the morning that this conversation took place). 

Girgas did his mistress's errand without delay. The 
dew was not yet dry on the spear-like blades of the 
sugar canes as he crossed the few fields that stood 
between the house of his mistress and that of the Bey, 
and the sun was not yet oppressive, as he reached the 
mud- wall which protected the yard from intruders, 
according to the custom of the country, and enclosed 
a tolerably large space, shaded by mulberry trees. 



JiAVS OF LIGHT, 71 



The boab opened the great nail-studded door, which 
generally stood open by day, but was closed when 
the '* hareem " were occupying the house. A sakkea, 
with its deep, large well, in which the huge wheel 
turned round, was on one side of thi? enclosure, its 
slow movements and creaking sound conveying a 
sense of pleasure to an Oriental, or to any one long 
resident in Egypt, which a stranger can hardly enter 
into: the "creak" of the water-wheel means coolness and 
fresh water, fertility to the land, refreshing the parched 
garden, slaking of thirst to man and beast ; and in 
its own way it is music to the Egyptian ear on the 
hot summer day. As the steward entered the yard, 
a busy scene was going on at the miniature canal, 
well paved and lined with smooth flags, that was filled 
by the wheel, with its rude pitchers, which emptied 
themselves and refilled again at every revolution. A 
number of the peasant women belonging to the farm 
were engaged in washing clothes in their extremely 
simple fashion, namely, rubbing them with some river 
mud, and rinsing in the cold water without any soap ; 
it is to be hoped that they were a little cleaner than 
before at any rate. One little washerwoman, of about 
five years old, was imitating her mother, and trying 
to wash her own frock ; as she was squatted on a flat 
stone in the middle of the channel, which widened out 
into a sort of broad pool, in one place ; the tiny 
creature would have been a study for an artist, in her 
white chemise, her little brown arms and feet so round 



72 RA YS OF LIGHT. 

and well shaped, and her tangled brown locks hanging 
over the busy face, with its jet black eyesand healthy 
nut-brown cheeks. Of course it was all dirty, dress, 
and the rest of it, but in a picture ! — however, Girgas 
was not an artist, and was utterly indifferent to the 
picturesque, and only paused to ask where was the 
aga, and being told he was in the garden, to make 
his way through a charming group of calves, heifers, 
and young buffaloes that had just come into the yard 
to drink at the flowing channel, and opening a side 
door, in a very dilapidated condition, entered the garden 
where, under a shady alley of fragrant flowering orange 
and lemon trees, the sooty guardian of the fair 
prisoners of the hareem was smoking his morning 
chibouk, and spoiling the pure flower-scented breeze, 
with its odours. On hearing the errand which brought 
Girgas at so early an hour, he sent a gardener's lad to 
inform the white slave (through the medium of a 
black one) of Sitt Irene's kind inquiries, and to leam 
whether the young lady were yet awake. 

" Since our lord's departure, Mr. Girgas," said he, 
" our young mistress has been far from well, and a 
woman here, who is considered clever in such matters, 
made a herb drink for her that has calmed her 
wonderfully. Last night was the first that she has 
slept quietly and for any length of time, so the nurse of 
the Bey tells me, since that sad day when the light of 
our house was darkened by the absence of its master.'* 

Girgas, of course, asked a few j^creet and cautious 



I^AVS OF LIGHT. 73 

questions about the departure of the Bey so suddenly, 
and to such a distance, but the aga was very reticent 
on his lord*s affairs, and merely said, " There is an 
evil eye, and there are evil tongues in palaces as well 
as in peasants' huts, my brother, and it is sometimes 
as well to move out of their way for a season ; also, 
it is good to smell the air occasionally in a new place 
for one's health. My lord may go for this or for that 
reason ; it is not my affair. He is a good man Mr. 
Girgas, and not like many Beys and pashas ; in fact, 
I know none like him for conduct May God send 
him back in peace to his house. No wonder that our 
young lady mourns the absence of so excellent a 
husband." No more information could be extracted 
from Osman, who proffered a pipe to his visitor, 
and resumed his own. 

The girl soon returned and said her mistress was 
awake and better, and that she sent salutations to 
the English lady, hoping she would favour her by 
coming to spend the day. With this message the 
steward hastened back, and after relating all that 
had passed with great minuteness, ordered out his 
lady's donkey, and in little more than half-an-hour 
she arrived at the hareem, and was received most 
affectionately by her friend, who, after the usual 
inquiries and salutations, hastened to relate the 
history of her husband's departure and its cause, 
and their alarm, not omitting to mention that he 
had promised to send any special letter to the care 



74 RA YS OF LIGHT. 

of Sitt Irene, a piece of confidence which delighted 
her not a little. She listened with the deepest sym- 
pathy and interest to the whole story, and asked if 
there were no news since the Bey's leaving them. 

" Yes," replied Ain el Hay at ; " he sent me a few 
words from Alexandria, just before sailing. The two 
servants and the secretary went with him to see him 
on board, but he only took one of them with him, 
that Nubian lad he is so fond of ; the secretary and 
the other servant came back at once, and brought us 
the account of his setting out and this little letter for 
me," producing it as she spoke. " I could read it 
myself after a little trouble," added she, with a blush 
of pleasure and pride at the achievement. 

Letters in the East are somewhat like those of 
former days in England in their formality and set 
terms, but are shorter in general, and contain as little 
as is possible of details, and as mmk of salutation 
and compliment. Still the loving heart can discern 
the true feeling under the ceremonious expressions, 
and the fair Circassian kissed the paper as she read it 
to her friend. There was an important message in it 
after all the greetings to her and his mother, though 
a very brief one : ** Ask the English lady for her 
book, and read it ; it will do you no harm." 

"Is not this very good, Sitt Irene .^ He will let m^ 
read in your book ; I am so glad." 

" So am I," answered Mrs. Hillyard, smiling, " and 
thankful to God for putting so good a thought into 



RA YS OF LIGHT. 75 

his heart as to let his dear wife read what will com- 
fort her in his absence. You will find that God's 
own word is like nothing else ; no book, I mean, is 
to be compared to it." 

" Certainly, it should be so, for God is not as we 
are ; but is not our Koran also God's book ? " and 
her brow was knitted with a puzzled look as she 
spoke. 

"Some extracts from God's book are in it," re- 
plied Mrs. Hillyard, " and some of the precepts are 
taken in part froiCL the teaching of the holy prophets 
of God, Moses, and David, and others, but a great 
part of it was written by men only, and that many 
years after God's book was given to us. But you can 
read for yourself and judge ; read what God has re- 
vealed by His Spirit to man, and you will see it 
is better than any other book, I think. Shall we look 
into this, which is called Genesis, to begin with ? " 

** Yes, this is the best time, for my mother-in-law is 
dyeing her hair, and will not be ready for an hour at 
least ; she is not fond of any books except the Koran, 
as you know." 

Irene was only too glad to take this hint, for the 
elder lady's presence was rather a hindrance, and as 
she hoped, it proved the right time for her young 
friend. The relish for her ordinary subjects of interest 
was almost gone, but the book had for that very rea- 
son a better chance of her husband's permission being 
given ; she would listen unfettered by fear or uneasiness. 



76 I^AVS OF LIGHT 

After reading a chapter in the Old Testament and 
one in the Gospel, her friend closed the volume, 
and was struck with the rested and calm expression 
in the fair Circassian's sweet face. 

** Can you let me have one to keep ? " she said 
after a pause. 

" With pleasure; you shall keep this ; I have another 
at home. This has a nice print, and I will mark the 
place we have read in the Gospel, that you may read 
it again if you like." 

The book was then put carefully into the lady's 
private chest among her brocaded dresses and fine 
muslins, and then her visitor inquired about the 
white slave whose draught had been so efficacious ; 
saying that she had heard of her skill in nursing the 
sick, and also that some of the peasants said she had 
been a lady in her own country. 

" I will send for her, by-and-by," said Ain el 
Hayat ; " she is rather odd, but a kind creature. I 
owe her the first good sleep I have had for many 
days ; but the slaves say she will not speak to 
them, and is proud ; they do not seem to like her on 
that account, but the peasants respect her for her 
skill about the sick, as you have heard." 

The mid-day meal was now ready, as a negress 
announced to them, and the great lady duly appeared 
having completed her toilette. It was not, indeed, 
that she dressed much in the country ; a plain muslin 
robe and veil of simple white net, with her least 



J^A VS OF LIGHT, JJ 



valuable jewels, were all that she now wore; but the 
hair dyeing was a long affair, and when the usual day 
came round for it, nothing but the direst distress 
would induce her to omit it The day was hot, as 
was a matter of course at that season, but the rooms 
were shady and kept cool by sprinkling the stone 
floors, and the meal which was now brought in con- 
sisted of such things as were most suited to tempt the 
appetite in hot weather : stuffed tomatoes and vine 
leaves, fresh cucumbers, broiled meat in small morsels 
served on chopped parsley, rice with savoury sauce, or 
eaten with sour milk, native cheese and pickled vege- 
tables of various sorts, and a dessert of the perfumed 
melon of Egypt, which, when good of its kind, can 
hardly be surpassed. 

The guests sat on the floor round the low table, on 
which the tray was placed, each with a large napkin 
on her knees. Mrs. Hillyard was not a novice, and 
acquitted herself very deftly without fork or knife, 
though at home she preferred English style. As 
each finished eating she rose and went towards the 
entrance hall, where a white slave was ready with an 
** Ibreek " to pour water on her hands, while one of 
the negresscs held a basin and a ball of scented 
Turkish soap. 

The elder lady then took her pipe, but soon fell 
asleep, and the guest was requested to lie down, as in 
hot weather in Egypt is required by most persons 
in the afternoon. But Mrs. Hillyard rose after an 



78 liA VS OF LIGHT. 

hour's rest, and leaving the invalid, for whom it was 
essential that she should have as much repose as possi- 
ble, still sleeping and watched over by one of the slaves, 
she went out to the garden, as the heat was somewhat 
abated, thinking it a good opportunity to try and see 
the white slave of whom she had heard so much. 

The gardener was at work opening the little chan- 
nels across the beds of vegetables, as the sun was 
getting low, and the time to water them was come. 
On her inquiring after Zobeide, he informed her 
that the bailiff and his wife were both absent at the 
village, where there was a merry-making at a rela- 
tive's house, but that she was in their outer room — a 
sort of large shed it was in fact — sorting herbs; "for," 
observed the man, shrugging his shoulders, " she 
does not care for any merriment ; however, when one 
is sick, by the prophet ! she is good for something 
then, poor thing ; no one is so clever about people in 
fever or such like." 

The bailiff had, besides this outer-room, another 
inner one on the ground-floor of the house, and the 
use of the Salamlik, or large room, where men visitors 
were received when not needed by the Bey and his 
friends, which was the greater part of the time, of 
course, the place being only visited occasionally. But 
though they had space enough, the family lived just as 
Egyptian peasants generally do live, namely, in a con- 
stant muddle of dirt, disorder, and discomfort, which 
was only kept from becoming intolerable by the white 



RA YS OF LIGHT, 79 

slave's efforts. Inured as she was to the peasant's 
habits, she drew a line somewhere, apparently, as the 
servants of the Bey declared a broom was frequently 
seen in her hands, and her own clothes were invari- 
ably clean. 

The English visitor found her seated on a mat in 
the dark cool salamlik, sorting and tying up herbs 
which lay beside her. She saluted Irene in return 
for her courteous greeting, and then continued her 
occupation without displaying any interest in the 
stranger. Undaunted by this coldness, she came for- 
ward and seated herself beside the bundle of herbs, 
and said, " I heard of your success with the young 
Sitt, and I wished to see you." 

" Why ? " said the woman, not rudely, but certainly 
not very cordially. 

" Because I too try to be of use to sick people ; 
probably you have more experience, however, and 
I hear you are very kind and good to those who 
are ill." 

" I am not kind," replied Zobeide, biting off the end 
of a thread with which she was tying a bunch of mint 

" Nay, my sister, you do yourself wrong," said Irene 
smiling ; " pussy would tell me a different story I am 
sure ; *' and she pointed to a beautiful tortoiseshell cat 
which was rubbing its head against the knee of the 
slave, purring loudly, and showing very plainly that 
she was a privileged pet. " I am sure you have a 
kind heart, because animals like you," 



8o RA YS OF LIGHT. 

" I am fond of animals and of quite little children," 
replied Zobeide after a pause, and unbending some- 
what in her manner ; " but I do not help sick people 
because I am good ; for I am not good, nor even be- 
cause I like them ; it is only that I cannot bear to see 
pain. Also, while people are very weak and sick, 
they resemble children in helplessness ; one is glad to 
lielp them, poor creatures ! " 

Irene secretly thought that one does and another 
doe? not care to help the suffering, and that it was 
evident here was benevolence, though the woman was 
crushed and her nature warped by long slavery and 
perhaps peculiar sorrows, as well as by a life of 
such degradation among illiterate and half-barbarous 
people. After a minute's silence she said, " I think 
the poor peasants feel grateful for kindness shown 
them in sickness. I know my poor friends are very 
grateful to me for the help I can givty and some have 
spoken to me about your skill." 

"Yes, I know more than they, for they are so 
stupid about sickness ! " she said, with a slight air of 
superiority, that showed she was not quite indifferent 
to the respect in which she was held ; " but for gra- 
titude, I do not know, nor does it matter to me ; they 
are glad to get away as soon as they are well, and I 
do not want their chatter." 

" Are your brother-in-law and his wife kind ? Do 
they take care of you and give you all you want, as 
far as they can } " asked Irene. 



J^AVS OF LIGHT. gi 

" I work for them well, and if they did not give me 
what I need, I could not do so," she replied coldly. 

"And where, if I may ask it, did you learn about 
herbs ? " asked the indefatigable questioner. 

" That was long ago, in my own country." 

" You are not a Circassian, are you ? " 

" No, no, Sitt Irene, I am a Greek." 

" Yotir name is Greek, though they told me you 
were English," she added, in a whisper, and with 
some appearance of interest 

" I am so ; my father was English, and I lived most 
of my life in England, but one of my grandfathers • 
was a Greek, that is why I am called Irene." 

" Mashallah ! " said the woman, looking at the 
loving dark eyes that were fixed upon her, " that is 
wonderful, really." 

" And now tell me where you came from, will you 
not } " continued her new friend. 

" I came from Candia in the old times. I was a 
prisoner of war in the terrible massacre, in the old 
time of Mohammed Ali." 

Irene could not speak for a minute or two ; her 
vivid imagination pictured it all in that brief space — 
the unspeakable horrors of the Turkish war, and those 
events over which time had thrown a mist of forget- 
fulness, but which had caused so much misery, so 
naany broken hearts and desolate homes, so much 
crime and so much wretchedness, and she could not 
repress a groan. But quickly recovering herself, she 

G 



82 RA YS OF LIGHT, 



took the hands of the slave in hers and pressed them 
tenderly, saying, " God help and comfort you, dear 
sister ! Oh, how I feel for you ! You were old enough 
to recollect it all, I suppose ? " 

" Yes, yes, I was grown up ; I had been married a 
few months ; my husband was slain " — the dead 
white of her skin was flushed for a moment, as she 
continued, with a strong effort, "my father, my 
brothers — all dead ; I shall never see any of them 
again — never, never, never!" The last words were 
uttered in a low voice, as if coming from the very 
tomb of hope and happiness, and the strong frame 
shook, though no tear was shed ; it was as if the 
bitter memories came up to the surface of the mind 
like the remains of a wrecked vessel surging up in the 
waves of the sea to tell of past woes. 

"Lord God, comfort her!" said Irene, kneeling 
beside her on the mat, and looking upwards, she said 
a few words of earnest, simple prayer, very few, 
then bent down and kissed the poor woman. A hot 
tear fell on her hand as she did so ; the ice was 
broken. 

" I dare not stay longer now, the sun is nearly set ; 
but you won't refuse to let me see you, will you, 
if the Sitt Fatmeh makes no difficulty, when I call 
next ? " 

'' I will come if I can," whispered the other, and 
hearing footsteps Irene hastened to take her leave. 
She was determined to get at the woman's sad story. 



I^A YS OF LIGHT. 83 



and if possible to show her the way of peace ; but as 
she lived so near, and there would be time to see her 
again, she resolved not to say more at present, and 
merely commended her particularly to the kindness 
of the gentle young mistress when she went to the 
house to take leave. 



CHAPTER VII. 
zobeide's story. 

MRS. HILLYARD gathered a little more about 
Zobeide while returning through the fields 
at sunset tjiat evening, escorted by one of her own 
sturdy peasants in his white robe and turban, and 
armed with a stout cane, knobbed like an Irish 
shillelah, in case of robbers (though in those days — 
a dozen years ago — robbers were very rarely heard 
of in Egypt), or of fierce dogs guarding the huts, 
which were always plentiful at nightfall. She learned 
from this man that till within a few months the white 
slave had lived on a portion of the Bey's property, 
divided from the rest by a slip of land belonging to 
another person, which accounted for her having never 
heard of the presence of one of those who are, with 
rare exceptions, never met with in the ** peasants* 
country,'* but in the hareems of the wealthy. A few 
aged people in the village to which he belonged, 
which was not far from this part of the Bey's farm, 
could just remember Zobeide first coming to reside 
there. She had been quite a young woman, they 
ttld him, but very sullen in temper (perhaps what 



ZOBEIDE'S STORY, 8$ 

they thought sullenness was dark despair) ; she used 
to cross herself and mutter words in an unknown 
tongue, and only scowled at them when they tried to 
make her say the " Fatthah," or opening words of the 
Koran, which are the special test of a Mohammedan's 
faith, and always taught to perverts. Her husband 
was the bailiff of the late father of Zohrab Bey ; 
every one had wondered at the favour given to him of 
a white slave as a wife, but it was said they were all 
afraid of her in the hareem, and that for that reason 
she had been obliged to marry a peasant by her 
master or mistress. It was so long ago, no one knew 
exactly. After a time she became more quiet, and 
at last had consented to repeat the Fatthah, but that 
was because her husband threatened to take away her 
little son, the only creature she cared for, and a 
remarkably beautiful child. He said he would send 
the boy to his own parents, who lived some miles off, 
to bring him up, unless Zobeide became a Moham- 
medan, and that she should never see him again. 
She gave in then, poor creature, but her child did not 
live to grow up; he died of some illness that was 
among the children, at about four or five years old. 
For a long time she had noticed no one after that, 
and seemed overcome with grief, but rallied in time, 
and became much what she has been ever since, dry 
and cold in manner to everyone, never smiling, unless 
to a little baby, but really doing many kind acts when 
any one was sick. The bailiff, her husband, was not 



86 ZOBEIDE'S STORY. 

young when she was married to him, and he died ten 
years ago, and since that she had remained with his 
younger brother and his wife, who had a very large 
family, and was very useful in the house, taking care of 
the furniture that belonged to the master, besides mind- 
ing the bailifTs children, and seeing after the fowls 
and many other matters. When they came to live 
in this house she came as a thing of course with them, 
and it was a mercy of God, the man concluded, for 
the young lady had been much the better, every ^one 
told him, for Zobeide's skill. 

Irene meditated long on what she had heard, and 
resolved to take an early oppportunity of seeing her 
poor friend before the door, which seemed to be 
partly opened for her, should be closed again, and 
long habit resume its sway, or the fear of those around 
her induce her to be silent. She had observed her 
casting an anxious glance toward the garden every time 
any of the peasants were passing, and felt that Zobeide 
either was, or feared to be, watched by them. Turkish 
ladies, however, are rather ceremonious, and a visit 
two days running without some particular cause would 
not, she knew, be the thing for Sitt Fatraeh, though 
the gentle Ain el Hayat would welcome her with no 
feeling of annoyance at want of formality. But by 
chance the following day, having been out while the 
sun was still Ytvy hot, contrary to custom, to speak 
to the sheikh of the village on some pressing business, 
she paused to rest under a shady sycamore fig tree 



ZOBEIDES STORY, 87 

at one of the Sakkias, belonging to the Bey, whose 
land she had to cross, and hardly had she dismounted 
and given her donkey in charge to the lad who ac- 
companied her, than she caught sight of Zobeide in a 
sheltered nook under the very trunk of the great tree, 
sitting quite composed, and, as usual, busy with herbs. 
She explained that she had come to gather wild mari- 
golds, which grew at this particular spot, and the 
distance from the garden being short, no one took any 
notice of her doing so, ** But I never expected to see 
you out, lady, while it is yet warm." Though her 
face was as stony and indifferent as before, her voice 
and manner were much less impassive, and more 
friendly than before. As they were not likely to be 
interrupted, and the only persons near were the 
peasant boy guiding the buffalo at the wheel, and his 
father, who lay (as did the donkey boy, as soon as 
permitted,) soundly asleep in the shadow of a mud 
wall, Irene took a seat near Zobeide, and after a few 
kindly words begged to hear the rest of her history, or 
what she could recollect. It was evidently a relief, 
nov/ that the ice was broken, to speak to one who had 
such loving sympathy to give ; for she, with very little 
pressing, took up the thread of her sad tale. 

** It was so terrible," she said, " I have only a con- 
fused recollection of most of what happened. I used, 
at one time, to dream of the cries and the burning 
houses and the fierce men with swords, all mixed up 
together ; but for many years I have nearly forgotten 



88 ZOBEIDEPS STORY. 

it. One thing I recollect more than anything else, the 
only thing I saw distinctly, the death of my husband. 
My poor father and brothers, I know, were slain, 
but I do not know how ; my husband was cut down 
by the scimitars before me, and I flung myself upon 
his body ; I remember that well. It seemed a long 
time I lay there, but perhaps was but a few minutes ; 
who can tell ? Then some one seized me, and was 
dragging me by the hair ; I had long plaits of hair 
almost to my ancles then ; people used to call them 
beautiful," she added, with a smile so bitter that 
it made Irene shudder ; it told more than words 
could speak. ** I tried to cling to him, my poor 
husband, you know, and then I saw his dagger stick- 
ing in his belt, and pulled it out quickly, and tried to 
pierce my own heart; but my hand was weak, or 
someone pulled my arm, for I only made a wound, 
deep, indeed, but not mortal. I have the mark yet. 
I recollect no more till I found myself on board a 
ship, in a cabin with a number of other prisoners, most 
of them very ill with sea-sickness. I felt nothing, 
not even the pain of the wound ; I only wanted to 
die — nothing else. But then there was an old servant 
of my father's who had nursed me as a child (it 
was she taught me about herbs formerly); she was 
sitting by me, and she told me that when I fell 
covered with blood, she had been in the place looking 
for me, and that a Turk, a great man, as it afterwards 
appeared, seized hold of her and desired her to take 



ZOBEIDE'S STORY, 89 

charge of me and follow him, threatening, if she re^ 
fused, to kill her ; she could speak a little Turkish, so 
she understood. She was willing enough to do all she 
could for the only survivor of her master's family. 
She nursed me only too well, for I did not wish to 
live. * Let me die,* was all I said ; and I wanted to 
throw myself into the sea, but she would not let me 
rise, and I could not move unassisted, and had to 
let her do as she would. I believe she gave me a good 
deal of opium, for I slept a great deal, and can hardly 
recollect anything of the voyage except that first day. 
We were a long time on the sea ; I have heard that 
they go much quicker now by some new machines ; 
but at last we landed, and I was still very ill for some 
time. When I was recovered they sent me to the hareem 
of the Bey's father; the Turk who had taken me was 
his friend, and had given me to him. I said I would 
not stay in a Moslem hareem, but would kill them if 
they wanted me to stay there. They laughed, but I 
really did try ; I had a dagger, I forget how I got it, 
but I recollect striking about with it right and left, 
and one of the black men was wounded a little. They 
said, *She is mad,' and advised that I should be thrown 
into the river. I was very glad, and said, 'Good, do 
so ; ' but the Bey said * No,' that I was proud, and that 
he would humble me, and marry me to a poor peasant ; 
and said I was sulky and fierce, and not so handsome 
as before, and I should go to the huts and live there. 
" I heard this afterwards, through that old woman, 



90 ZOBEIDES STORY. 



the Greek servant. I saw her afterwards, for I fell ill 
again, and they sent her to nurse me. She said they 
put opium in the food to stupefy me, and that I said 
any words they chose before the Mollah, being nearly 
insensible and foolish; so they married me, and when I 
came quite to myself I was in a mud-hut in a village 
not far from this. Then I became ill, as I said, and 
poor Katerina took care of me. When I got well 
she was sent back to the hareem, and I never saw 
her again ; so I thought she died, otherwise she would 
have managed to come again — it was not so far from 
Cairo. They told me I was a Moslem," she added, 
bitterly smiling ; " but I am nothing ; I turned to 
stone. I' don't know why I tell you all this, Sitt 
Irene ; but I cannot help, now I have begun." 

" It is because you feel that I love and pity you, 
oh, so deeply ! so very much more than I can say," 
said Irene, wiping her tears. " It is better for you 
than to shut up all your troubles in your heart ; but 
do not go on if it pains you." 

" I am past being pained now. Think how many 
years I have lived here ; it must be forty years and 
more. I am become a stone, and I shall remain so 
till I turn to dust." 

" Was the peasant husband cruel } '* said Irene. 

" No ; on the whole, he was kind in his way. They 
are proud of a white slave wife ; they think it an 
honour among peasants, of course. He only once 
struck me in a passion. I remained for a week without 



ZOBE IDE'S STORY, 9 1 

speaking, and would do nothing for him, so he never 
touched me again. I was never asked to do hard 
outdoor work ; no white slaves are ; and he had better 
wages than others on my account, so I was never ill- 
used." 

" And your only child died, I was told," said Irene. 

" Yes, Sitt Irene, and I was sorry at the time ; a 
mother is a mother, and he was like my family in face. 
But even while I cried, I felt it was better for him to go. 
Death is better than life! I never had another, and 
I grew old early ; though I am strong, sorrow soon 
made lines on my face, and my hair turned grey early ; 
so when my husband died no difficulty was made 
about my living with his brother's wife to help her. 
My mother might have insisted on my marrying again; 
but who wanted an old woman ? So I was left in 
peace at least. If any one is sick they are glad enough 
of my help. While they suffer I am anxious about 
them. I don't know why, but I try to save their lives, 
though I don't want people to live. It is a wicked 
place, the world." 

" Dear Zobeide, you have really a tender heart, 
though your terrible sorrows make you think it is 
turned to stone. Tell me, do you never pray to God?*' 

" Never," she replied. " They say I am a good 
Moslem, and can say the Fatthah. I say it when 
they ask me ; why not? But I have no belief.'* 

" You were a Christian } " 

" Yes, of course ; but I forget all now." 



92 ZOBEIDES STORY, 

" Do you recollect the name of Jesus Christ ? " 
" I must have heard, but I forget all. Yes, all, all 
is forgotten ! " she continued, with the emphasis of 
despair. 

" Oh, dear friend, God remembers you, if you forget 
Him ; He never forgets." 
** Why, then, did He let me come here?" 
'* Ah, that I cannot tell ; it is one of the secret things 
why sorrow and suffering are found, and why some 
have more than others, and wicked men have such 
power to do harm to the innocent; but He never for- 
gets ; and, dear Zobeide, God it is who sent me here, 
His poor servant, to comfort you, and remind you of 
Him ! This life is only short, and if we believe in God 
and the Saviour He sent to die for our sins and save 
our souls, we shall begin a new and glorious and happy 
life in Heaven. You forget this, if you ever under- 
stood it clearly, but God has sent me to tell you." 

The woman looked at her without reply, but with 
genuine surprise as well as interest in her face, and 
Irene went on after a pause. " God sent me when 
He made things happen so that I met you and heard 
of you from my peasants, and put love and pity into 
my heart for you ; that is His way now of sending 
His servants, and all who love and obey God are 
His servants." The only answer to this was a hot 
tear that fell on the hand Irene held. " Now listen, 
dear," said she softly, " I am going to say the Lord's 
Prayer to you ; " and slowly she repeated it in Romaic, 



ZOBEIDE'S STORY. 93 

hoping the once familiar words would strike her. 
Every member of the Greek church must have heard, 
even if she did not understand (for want of attention 
or of explanation) the Lord's Prayer. She knew 
forty years* disuse must have made the captive nearly 
forget her own language, so tliat Arabic was the 
tongue she thought in probably ; but she had been 
going back into the past, and the very sound would 
be familiar ; nor was she mistaken. 

" I used to hear that, I know, but I cannot tell what 
the words . mean, I forget so," she said sadly ; " I 
cannot recollect their meaning now." 

** No wonder, but I will say it in Arabic," said Irene ; 
" the Lord's Prayer is in every language. It is our Lord 
Jesus who gives it to us." She then repeated the prayer, 
clause by clause, in Arabic first, and then in Romaic ; 
when it was ended she said, " Our Lord's kingdom is for 
ever and ever^ do not forget that, and there is no pain 
or sorrow in His kingdom; no war, nor bloodshed, nor 
cruelty, but love, joy, and peace ; and we shall be 
in that kingdom if we believe in Jesus Christ, and are 
His servants. Think of that, Zobeide ; no more sorrow, 
all peace and joy ! " 

The tears were falling now like summer rain, and 
the lady rose, and pressing her hand for farewell, 
went to the spot where her slumbering attendant 
lay, and roused him, and then remounted and rode 
home, pondering over what had passed, and so full 
of it, that it was well her steed knew his way, or she 



94 ZOBEIDES STORY, 

might have ridden him on to the village a second 
time, instead of to the farm. 
) " How is it," thought she, " that so much sympathy 
/i is given to the negro slaves, and so very, very little to 
/ the white ones, who, if not so numerous, are yet quite 
enough to make one shudder at the thought of the 
desolated homes and savage cruelty wreaked on such 
as are captives of the sword and spear, and of the 
odious traffic in such as are stolen from their families 
or purchased from degraded parents ; though I suspect 
these last are really much less numerous than the 
former ; but any way it is a system of awful wicked- 
ness, and in the nineteenth century surely a change 
ought to come, and neither white nor black be treated 
as cattle sold for the service of their fellow-men. 
When, oh when will the gospel of peace reign, and 
the dark places of the earth be no more full of the 
habitations of cruelty ? How little can such as I do ! 
A few drops of kindness on the parched desert of 
sorrow and misery; yet that little I must do, and 
if one soul is saved, there is joy in heaven. Perhaps 
this dear woman will one day be before the throne 
of the Blessed, and then — but we have to do with the 
present now, and I must pray to be guided step by 
step.'' Her meditations were interrupted by entering 
her own property, undivided by wall or hedge or 
paling, but known by certain landmarks, and as the 
sun was now set she hurried her donkey forwards. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE. 

THE little barefooted damsel who waited on the 
English widow was watching at the open gate of 
the court-yard when the mistress was seen approach- 
ing across the field from which a well-laden camel 
was just bearing the last golden sheaves, while the 
peasant girls and their fathers, who had been the 
reapers, were slowly following with cheerful faces ; for 
the day's work was done, the mothers already pre- 
paring supper at the doors of their huts in the faint 
and rapidly-fading light of evening ; but the moon 
was rising, and by its mellow rays they would enjoy 
the simple fare rendered delicious by healthy labour, 
and then, while the men smoked their cherry-stick 
pipes, the young lasses would sport and play in the 
cool air till, weary with exercise, they lay down on 
their mats to enjoy a sweeter sleep than often falls to 
the lot of a jewel-decked lady in a hareem. 

The little Zeynab would not be sorry to have a 
scamper in the moonlight, if her kind lady came early 
enough ; but though she loved play, being only eleven 
years old, she could work well under proper manage- 



g6 THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE. 

ment, and had prepared the frugal meal more neatly 
than would be supposed possible by any one who had 
seen her mother's hut and the group there, squatting 
round a great earthen pan of stewed vegetables, 
dipping in pieces of bread with their fingers, and 
clearing up the remains with the same implements. 
Zeynab had only been half a year with Mrs. Hillyard 
(for the damsels married early, according to Egyptian 
custom), yet she was fairly trained already, and had 
spread a snowy cloth on the little table with cup and 
plate perfectly clean, and a vase of fresh flowers 
beside them, a small home-made loaf of European 
bread, and a dish of curds and cream, and she now 
ran to make the tea, and bring the jug of new milk, 
first covering everything with wire covers, for fear of 
the insects, and even recollected to carry the pet cat 
under her arm lest, in her brief absence in the kitchen, 
a velvet paw might be inserted under the said cover, 
the temptation of cream being strong, especially as it 
was now considerably past pussy's usual supper hour. 
" Here I am, Zeynab," said her mistress, hastily 
dismounting, and leaving the donkey loose to trot 
straight to the manger in the yard, where his beans, 
partially crushed in the little hand-mill, awaited him, 
mingled with chopped straw. " I am rather later than 
I intended. All is ready, I see, you and puss await- 
ing me ; that is a good girl I Take in this nice basket 
of early figs, which they made me bring from the 
Bey's garden ; here is a handful for yourself; Now, 



THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE, 97 

while I am at tea you may go and have a game with 
your little sisters, but do not be late.*' 

With a smile dimpling all over her merry brown 
face, the youthful servant bounded away, and left the 
lady to her lonely meal ; not, however, that she felt a 
bit lonely ! as she often said to her brother, besides 
the privileged cat and dog, which, Robinson Crusoe 
like, she admitted to sit on each side of her, there 
were cheerful voices generally sounding outside the 
windows, and often cheerful faces popped in at the 
door for a moment from some of the various peasants 
or servants, withdrawing politely when they saw her 
at table, but giving a good-humoured greeting as they 
did so. Irene had large sympathies, and for that 
reason could almost always guess when people were 
in trouble or joy, and generally found out what they 
needed, and if in her power, would help them to it, 
and comfort them if not ; so it was no wonder, there- 
fore, that she had cheerful faces about her. She was 
more serious and pensive than usual this day, for 
what she had heard occupied her much, and she was 
reflecting on it, and thinking what to do next. " If I 
have waked up the old memories, and yet do not 
succeed in leading the poor woman to the feet of the 
Saviour, I shall have done her more harm than good," 
said she to herself ** The interest is aroused certainly, 
but she is terribly ignorant ; and after living so long in 
darkness, having forgotten the little she knew of 
God and forced to conform outwardly to what she 

H 



98 THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE. 

abhorred as belonging to her enemies, it will not be 
easy to get her to see the truth all at once ; it must 
be cautiously done, for I see she fears the people 
about her ; the furtive glances she cast round to as- 
certain that the men were not near this evening under 
the tree showed how she dreads their finding out 
anything of her real dislike to their faith. The danger 
of suicide being gone, and the instinctive love of life 
having returned, she has a certain degree of satisfac- 
tion in the respect the peasants pay her, as well as in 
the alleviation of suffering, though she will not allow 
it, poor thing ! And I must not be deceived by her 
emotion at hearing well-known words associated with 
the happy past, into thinking more is done than really 
is ; just a beginning, I hope, at any rate." 

She rose, and summoning a boy by clapping her 
hands, sent him to call Zeynab to take away the 
supper things, and then, lighting a candle, began to 
turn over and mark sundry passages in two large 
Bibles, an Arabic and an English ; she glanced at a 
third in Romaic, but decided it would not do. The 
knowledge of her poor friend was too little. It'was not 
probable that, brought up originally in a Christianity 
so corrupted as that of the Oriental Churches, she had 
ever at any time been familiar with much of the 
Scripture, or that she had learned to look on Christ 
as the sole way of salvation. Mrs. Hillyard knew many 
both of the Coptic and Greek Churches (which are 
similar in most of their doctrines and ceremonies), and 



THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE. 99 

she was aware that although much better off than 
members of the Roman Catholic Church, inasmuch as 
the Scripture is not forbidden to the laity, their people 
were generally left in ignorance of it, and that both 
clergy and laity were lamentably ignorant of the 
Gospel, and looked on the Virgin and saints as neces- 
sary aids to salvation, and paid them reverence and 
even worship. She needed teaching hardly less than 
the Moslems around her ; in some respects almost 
more indeed, for they v/ere at least honestly revering 
what they professed, and not crushed by tyranny into 
deceit. 

It was necessary to have patience, as meeting 
Zobeide out of doors was a chance that might not 
again occur for some time, and she thought it too soon 
to go to the hareem again, lest the older lady should 
consider it a liberty, but many a prayer was sent up to 
heaven for the captive of forty years. She had not 
very long to wait for an occasion ; after two or three 
days she received a letter from the Bey, at Marseilles, 
enclosing a note for his wife. He wrote, he said, to 
ask her to give him letters to her family in England, as 
he was thinking of visiting that country, as he had been 
told by a fellow-passenger that late in summer would 
not be so suitable a time for him to visit London. 

Of course she could go to the ladies at once without 
ceremony, under these circumstances, and did not even 
wait to send a messenger, but set out as soon as the 
heat was somewhat abated, only desiring her servant 



100 THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE, 

to precede her and knock at the door, when within a 
hundred yards of the house, and to inform the boab 
that she was bringing a letter from the master. 

The news travelled quickly from the boab to 
Osman, the black aga, and from him to a negrees, 
from her again to a white slave, and, lastly, to the lady 
herself— the younger one — who started up without a 
trace of her usual languor on hearing the joyful words 
" a letter from the Bey ! " and stood at the doorway of 
the anteroom to receive her guest. 

" Welcome, my sister, always welcome, but thrice 
welcome to-day ! '* she said, with beaming eyes, as she 
cordially embraced Irene, and led her into the room. 
**Thou art bringing news of my dear lord, Sitt Irene ; 
truly this is a white day ! " 

" Now here is your letter," said her friend, producing 
a small folded paper, " and after you have read it I 
will read you mine, for your husband has written me 
a letter in French ; he is at Marseilles, and wishes 
for a letter to my family, as he is about to visit 
England, with God's permission." 

It took the young scholar a full quarter of an hour 
to decipher fully the contents of her not very long 
letter. Before she had finished it, however, she recol- 
lected that her mother-in-law, who had been at her 
toilette when the visitor arrived, had not yet been in- 
formed of the news, formally that is, for of course, the' 
slaves had let her know, but, remembering her duty, 
and due respect, Ain el Hayat clapped her hands and 



THE FOUNTAIN OF" £]tE. \o\ 

sent a proper message by the slave, who answered 
her summons. 

" She IS about dressed now, so it is time enough," 
she said, as she turned to her letter again, and had 
just finished it, when the great lady, with a smiling 
face, entered exclaiming, as Irene greeted her, 

"Now, God bless thy hands and thy feet, my 
daughter ! I must kiss thy head for having brought 
me good reports of my son ; " and she kissed her 
visitor's head accordingly, a high mark of respect 
and regard, and then her cheeks, after which, seat- 
ing herself on the divan, she listened with 
delighted interest to the somewhat bald and brief 
epistle; it was chiefly affectionate messages and 
assurances of his own good health, &c. 

Irene then translated the French letter aloud, and 
explained to the ladies what at first puzzled them : 
that England was an island, and, therefore, the 
second voyage alluded to in the letter was necessary 
to reach it. 

*' The Bey had some fine maps," said she ; " if you 
have one here I will show you his route." 

" Ah, I am sorry," said Ain el Hayat ; " but his 
books and all are in the city ; however, if you would 
. teach me a little geography, I could send to the 
secretary to let me have the great map. The Bey 
was beginning to teach me about it ; I know some- 
thing already : how the world goes round the sun, 
and about the great seas." 



"'^-2* '' * THE I^OVNTAIN of LIFE, 

"Would to God," interrupted the mother, "that 
the Bey were safe at home, away from these danger-- 
ous seas, and then he might teach thee what he likes, 
daughter ; however, if it amuses thee, there can be 
no harm in what he permitted ; " and she gave a puffl 
from her pipe. 

Meantime her visitor had sketched with the reed- 
pen and a sheet of Arab paper, that lay on the stand 
near her, a pretty accurate map of France, with the 
silver streak, and England on the opposite side, and 
amused Ain el Hayat by tracing her husband's journey 
from Egypt to Marseilles, and so on to England, 
much as a mother or school-teacher with her pupils, 
only that her manner with grown-up learners was, of 
course, very different. Anything of the condescension 
of a regular teacher would have affronted Sitt Fatmeh 
who was accustomed to look on every thing and every 
body from a height like many in her position, and 
far from revering European ladies as being more 
educated, was inclined to look down on any who 
were not *' Islam," and was so entirely ignorant as to 
have no respect for learning (outside the Koran).; 
She looked on geography as a fine thing, because* 
her son was said to be eminent in it, but perfectly 
useless for women, though, as a harmless amusement, 
Ain el Hayat might pore over maps provided she 
did not spend much time on it, lest her eyes should 
suffer from the fatigue. 

The dear mother, of course, did not know that 



THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE. 103 

the mind of every rational being, if left without 
exercise, gets mouldy and deteriorates as the being 
advances in years, which is, perhaps, the reason that 
in Egypt a child is often charming; a young girl 
sprightly and amusing ; a middle-aged woman 
generally dull and tiresome ; and an old woman 
odious. There are many exceptions ; there are natives 
that no neglect and mismanagement can quite spoil, 
and there are some who have received a little smat- 
tering of some sort of teaching, but the mass are 
gradually losing the charms of youth, and only 
getting more knowledge of evil, and more occupied 
with the earthly things that they must soon lose, 
and, therefore, clutch the tighter as they grow old. 

Mrs. Hillyard knew that the Gospel was the only 
lea.rning that can make wise to salvation, and 
wished ever to give it the first and chief place, when 
permitted to help her unenlightened sisters in any 
way ; but where leisure and means allowed of it, she 
was glad to supplement it by some secular instruction 
on many accounts, and knew that if not given an 
undue pre-eminence, the intellectual knowledge was 
an aid to the spiritual. 

After telling them something about the mother 
and brother, to whom she was sending a letter of 
introduction for the Bey, she asked if she might not 
read a chapter from her Bible, and with her winning 
look turned to the great lady, and said, " I think Sitt 
Fatmeh would like what I had planned to read you." 



104 THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE, 

" I do not like Christian books," replied that lady 
solemnly (she had of course never read or heard one 
in her life). " I told my son if his wife was to read 
there is only one really good book, which is ours ; 
however, he is master, and is both wise and good ; I 
cannot blame him in any way." 

" But, dear Sitt Fatmeh, I have read in your Koran 
a good deal, and it says in one place that the Gospel 
is good to read." 

"Truly?" asked Sitt. Fatmeh, who had in fact never 
read her own book, but only heard a few extracts 
which were chanted out behind the curtain on festival 
days and during the fast. 

" I will show you the words another day; I will 
bring my copy on purpose." 

" What ! You have a copy of our book ? " 

"Yes, one in Arabic and one in French. But, 
dear lady, do now listen to this ; it is out of the Book 
of Genesis, written by Moses. 

" Him! Moses the prophet? I did not know you 
had words of his ; they ought to be good." 

Irene took this for consent, and read the first and 
second chapters of Genesis, giving a few simple 
explantions in a manner so perfectly free from any- 
thing patronizing that pride itself could not take 
offence, while her earnestness and clearness were 
almost irresistible. 

Both the listeners were much interested, but the 
younger far the most She had heard some of it 



THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE, 105 

before ; indeed, her face was full of lively intelligence 
at the history so old yet ever new. 

" But it was corn, and not a tree, in the garden," 
said Sitt Fatmeh, who knew the garbled account of 
the fall given by Mahommedans. 

" Moses says it was a fruit, pleasant to the eye, and 
good for food, which you know com is not, unless 
first prepared in a long and troublesome way to fit it 
for man's use ; and a fruit would be more likely to 
tempt the childish mind of Eve. Still the point of 
importance is that whether she took ears of corn or 
fruit, she disobeyed God's command, and listened 
to the evil one/' 

" The truth is with thee, and it is good," was the 
reply, as the hearer gravely lighted a fresh pipe, the 
slave holding a small pair of tongs with a live coal 
towards her for the purpose. 

While she was thus occupied, Ain el Hayat 
whispered, " who was the woman's seed ? What does 

that mean } " 

* 

" That was Jesus the Son of man and the Son of 
God, bom of the virgin in the likeness of sinful man, 
but without sin, because he was the Spirit of the 
Most High God." 

" He of whom we read the other day ; the Lord 
Jesus who drove out the evil spirits from the poor 
man ? Ah, now I see it, He had power over the evil 
one and all his demons; He bruised the serpent's 
head— yes, I understand now; and. you said He can 



106 THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE. 

deliver our souls from Satan's power now. It is a 
beautiful story; I wish to read it over to you again, to 
be sure I have the words right" 

"Read, daughter," said the mother-in-law; "the 
Bey would not allow you, if it were wrong, and I 
dare say it is pretty." 

She listened with pleasure, for up to a certain point 
her mind was interested ; but with the other it was 
different : her soul was awake, and her very face wore 
a new expression. 

There was an illuminated marker in Irene's Bible 
which excited the admiration of both the ladies as 
she was going to close the volume, and they begged 
to examine it, and to have the motto read to them : 
" With thee is the fountain of life " were the words. 

"Why that is my name," exclaimed the Circassian; 
" what can this mean, Sitt Irene ? " 

" The fountain of life is with God, as was meant to 
be implied by your name, but these words are from 
the Psalms of David (he was a great prophet, you 
know), and they mean more than the fact that God is 
our Creator. Life everlasting is given us through 
Him who, proceeding from God, and being the very 
Spirit of God Himself, is thus the spring or fountain 
of that life, as I read to you from the Gospel how 
Jesus said, * He that believeth in Me hath everlasting 
life ; ' and again it is said, * Let him that is athirst 
come. And whosoever will, let him drink of the 
water of life freely.* " 



THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE, 107 

She paused and looked into the thoughtful eyes in 
silence. The entrance of the coffee now interrupted 
them, and then of a slave with flowers, and the elder 
lady went to the divan at the other end of the room 
for some purpose. Ain el Hayat rose to put away 
her precious book, and smiled when she observed that 
her friend had put the marker into it. 

" Dear one," said she, " I pray that the fountain of 
life may be revealed to you by the Spirit." She 
pressed her hands without another word, and then 
observing that the sun would soon become over- 
powering, resisted their invitations to delay, having 
business at home; but she first begged to say a word 
to the white slave Zobeide, if Sitt Fatmeh would 
allow. 

" \Vhat do you want of her.?" said that lady, who 
was apt to be a little put out at anything unusual ; 
and as a rule Eastern ladies are not wont to meddle 
with or even notice one another's slaves without some 
particular reason. 

Irene was, however, no novice, and had a reason — 
not the chief one, certainly, but a real and good one 
— for wanting to speak to Zobeide. 

"I want to ask what she would advise for the 
child of one of my peasants who was burnt, and his 
mother put on ground coffee, and then ink, and I know 
not what, and the place is worse to-day. She 
might know some herbs that would be good." 

Sitt Fatmeh was really kind-hearted when a case 



I08 THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE. 

was brought before her notice, and said at once she 
would send the woman to Sitt Irene's that evening at 
sunset. 

'* She can stay the night, if you like, and see the 
child again in the morning," she added; "the bailiff, 
her brother-in-law, is going to the village a little before 
sunset to bring some things we want, and passes near 
your place, I believe, so he can leave her there." 

It is needless to say the arrangement was accepted 
with pleasure and gratitude; it was beyond her hopes, 
and she could scarcely conceal her delight. She re- 
turned home, and by sunset was awaiting her visitor 
with the little patient 



CHAPTER IX. 

WHO IS SHE? 

AS far as she could take pleasure in anything, 
the' white slave was really pleased to go to the 
English lady's house, and to be sought for as a person 
of importance had probably a certain charm to her 
in spite of herself, as it were. She was respectfully 
greeted by the peasants at the little farm, and con- 
ducted to the salamlik, where the mistress of the 
house was sitting by the burnt child, who was crouched 
up in his mother's lap on a mat. Zobeide, after due 
salutations, examined the case, and looked as grave 
and knowing as a doctor meanwhile. Long ex- 
perience, and some little real knowledge of remedies, 
as far as herbs to be obtained in the country went, 
with that peculiar faculty which makes some persons 
nurses by nature, combined to give her a con- 
siderable amount of success in all ordinary cases 
of accident. She smiled rather contemptuously 
when the poor woman suggested a charm, and 
desired to have certain articles brought which Mrs. 
Hillyard provided, and soon had the little sufferer 
properly attended to, and his pain alleviated in some 
degree After giving her directions, she was conducted 



110 WHO IS SHE f 



over the farm by her kind hostess (who said she 
wanted her advice about some young chickens), and 
finally brought into the sitting-room, where, to her 
surprise, she was requested to take her place at the 
table, which was laid in English fashion, and spread 
with a simple but abundant supper of difTerent 
kinds of bread, milk, fruit, native cheese, and olives. 
So the free woman and the bond woman broke bread 
together and sat side by side ; and as soon as the 
girl had cleared everything and brought the candles, 
they sat down on the sofa, and Irene opened the 
large Arabic Bible. The door was ajar, and she 
called to some one outside, and to the fresh amazement 
of the slave, not only the steward, who, being a Chris- 
tian, she might suppose came in as a matter of course, 
but two rough-looking men, whose dress she thought 
showed them to be Moslem peasants. A few Copts, 
indeed, are scattered among the Moslem inhabitants 
of the villages around Cairo, and in dress and ap- 
pearance are nearly similar, often quite so, but they 
are a small minority in this province. The names 
given to these men proved them without doubt to 
be genuine followers of the prophet, being Moham- 
med and Hossein, yet they sat down on the mat 
quite as if it were the most natural thing in the 
world to sit and hear the Bible. And so it was; 
Irene had always told her poor friends in the country 
that God's Book was meant for all. She never said 
anything when distinctly questioned about their own 



WHO IS SHE f III 

views, but urged them to listen to the words of Scrip- 
ture, and only gave the simplest and clearest explana- 
tions possible, selecting the portions most interesting 
and most useful, varying the Gospel lessons and stories 
with some of the Old Testament accounts most likely 
to profit and delight her auditors. They knew that she 
read about this hour, which was arranged on purpose as 
the most convenient to them, and they came in freely, 
if disposed to do so. She had chosen the history of 
Joseph's being sold into Egypt, and as she closed the 
book made a few remarks showing the way in which 
he was a type of Christ. When the short, earnest 
prayer was over and the men were gone, she talked 
a little with her guest, who was much less silent and 
gloomy than before. 

"Why did God let the wicked men triumph so 
and sell their brother?" 

** You shall hear the rest to-morrow, and you will 
see how good came out of evil. Evil men will have 
their punishment, but God can turn the wrath of man 
to praise Him ; " and she went on to show the captive 
how her own long and sad captivity might end in 
brightness, if not in this world, in the new home above. 

**And now," said she, when she thought her 
visitor had had as much as her mind could take in, 
" do tell me your real name ? " 

" I forget 3 I have heard no name but Zobeide so 
long." 

" Nay, think a little, the name your mother and 



112 WHO IS SNEi 



father called you in childhood ;" and Irene quoted the 
familiar words summoning the child to its parent's 
knee, in the Romaic language, for she had often 
heard it from her maternal grandfather when very- 
young applied to herself, and afterwards from her 
aunt who was settled in Alexandria and married to a 
Greek merchant. 

There was a moment's pause, and then the slave 
looked at her sadly and said, " I used to be called 
Eurydice." 

" I shall call you so when we are alone," said her 
friend, rising and taking her by the arm to lead her 
to the room prepared for her, the same that her 
brother occupied when he came for a day or two, or 
his little boys, when the whole family were at the 
farm. Though simple almost to poverty in its 
arrangements, for having only the little girl as female 
servant, Irene did not care to put more than was 
actually needful for comfort, yet to eyes so long used 
to the mud-huts of the peasants, the dust and dirt, 
the ragged mats and unclean cushions that formed 
the bedding, the total absence of furniture as of neat- 
ness and order, the simple but spotless bed, the 
snowy mosquito curtains, and nice washing apparatus, 
looked like a luxurious arrangement ; nor was the 
feeling of being treated as a friend and guest less 
strange and pleasing. 

When the first rays of the sun penetrated the 
latticed windows she was up, and wanted to return at 



IVHO IS SHE? 113 



once, but Irene begged her to stay and breakfast first. 
She always took her coffee and milk very early, and 
her guest must join before setting out to the Bey*s 
farm, whither one of the peasants was ready to escort 
her, with a donkey duly saddled in native fashion. 
The walk was scarcely half an hour, but the lady 
thought it looked kind to the guest, and also enabled 
her to show the mistress, who had obligingly sent 
her, that her kindness was not trespassed upon by 
any needless delay. 

She ascertained during breakfast the name of the 

white slave's family ; it came bs^ck to her, as Irene 

expected, when going over some little details about 

the past, and she also recollected that her father had 

had two brothers associated in merchant business 

with him, one of whom died while she was still a 

child, leaving a son who was brought up by her 

father, and who, she believed, had not died in the 

massacre ; she fancied he had gone to some distant 

place before he was much older than her brothers, 

who were quite youths when they fell victims to 

cruelty and rage. She could not recollect her cousin's 

name, nor anything about him, beyond this vague 

story, but Mrs. Hillyard had a strong suspicion that 

it was no other than her own grandfather. The 

family name was the same as that given by the slave, 

Iconopolo — not an uncommon Greek name at all. The 

coincidence alone would have told nothing ; but there 

had been a sad story in her grandfather's family, that 

I 



114 IVHO IS SHEf 



in one of the terrible Turkish massacres in the days 
of old, at least, when he was a young man, several 
members of his house had lost their lives and 
property in the island of Crete or Candia, where they 
resided, he being in Syria at the time. In those days 
there was little communication between different 
places in the East, and that little slow and irregular. 
There was not much letter writing, being no post- 
offices, and but few (compared with the present time) 
who could even read; the women of even highly 
respectable families of Greek or Syrian race could 
never write a word. News was brought chiefly by 
verbal messages, or letters sent by private hands. 
Before Theodore Iconopolo learned that there had 
been scenes of such terror and misery in his native 
island some time had elapsed ; and though he had 
endavoured to ascertain the fate of his uncle's family, 
he only learned in a vague way that all were sup- 
posed to have perished in the massacre. He was at 
that time settled in North Syria, but ultimately 
removed, as before-mentioned, to Egypt. He had 
never been able to hear anything more than the first 
vague report, and had long ceased to think of the 
painful subject. People seemed to get used to a sort 
of doubt, which with our present greater facilities for 
communication would be intolerable. Irene had, 
however, heard and been greatly interested in the 
account from her uncle, who had assured her that as 
far as he knew not a single survivor had been left, 



WHO IS SHE? 115 



except a very distant branch of the family residing in 
another part of the island, and having another name, 
being related to him on the female side. 

She resolved to make fresh inquiries now, and to 
say nothing to her guest unless she ascertained her 
suspicion to be correct beyond doubt. Her brother 
Edmund was acquainted with the English Consul at 
Crete, and also with two or three Greek mer- 
chants there, having once spent a few months on the 
island for change of air, the climate being considered 
very fine. She therefore wrote to him when she had 
taken leave of Zobeide, and gave a full account of her 
recollections of the story told by her uncle, and of 
the account given her by Zobeide, and asked him to 
write to these friends, and beg them to get for her 
the dates as nearly as possible, the place, and every 
particular that they could obtain, from any aged persons 
of the once wealthy and prosperous family destroyed 
in that terrible period. Even now, when steamers 
have replaced sailing vessels, and things in general 
are a little less tedious than formerly, matters are 
slow enough in the East, and she knew a good while 
must elapse before a reply could be received ; at 
least three weeks, perhaps more. So she put aside 
conjecture for the time as much as she could^ 
and devoted herself to the many affairs demanding 
her attention, especially the care of the poor and 
sick. Of course it had been necessary to reply to the 
Bey's letter at once by giving him the introductions 



Il6 IVHO IS SHEf 

he asked ; but as he was to travel rather slowly, as a 
friend had asked him to go through Belgium with 
him en route for England, and visit some of the most 
remarkable cities, she had time to send a letter to 
her sister, giving some private information about the 
expected guest before he should arrive. A glance at 
part of her letter will take up this thread in the 
twisted lines of our tale. 

After relating all the story of the white slave, and 
her suspicions about her, she went on to say that 
whether this was true or not, she intended on his re- 
turn to ask the Bey for papers of freedom for the 
woman, and then — for she was certain he would grant 
the request — to take her to live at the farm as a sort 
of housekeeper and assistant about the sick and poor. 
" Possibly I shall write to him, indeed," — she wrote — 
" for one dares not trust to life, and a wife is not an heir 
in this country ; otherwise, whatever might befall the 
Bey, the poor captive would be in good hands. The 
Sitt Ain el Hayat is a sweet creature, and so well 
disposed to the truth. Oh, if I can see her really enter 
the fold, I cannot express the joy it would be ! But I 
must now speak of her husband, quite as interesting in 
his way, and give you a hint or two, as he is to spend 
some little time with you. I know my brother will be 
all that is kind ; but you are older in Christianity, as 
well as in years, and mother too will be so deeply 
interested in one from the land she visited years ago 
with father ! You and she, however, have never yet 



WHO IS SHE? 117 



had a Mohammedan to stay with you, nor, I think, 
have ever met one you could speak to easily ; for the 
Bey talks not a little broken French or English, but 
the first like a native; the second tolerably for a 
foreigner. 

"There is no fear of your making the common 
mistake of supposing it a breach of hospitality to 
speak on the Christian religion to a Moslem (I have 
often met with Egj'^ptians who had been in England 
for two or three years even, and returned without 
having had a word of the Gospel ever put before them, 
the families they had stayed with having made it a 
point of honour to hide their candle under a bushel, if 
they had one to hide ! I am more afraid of dear 
mother going too far, or rather, I should say, too 
rapidly on the right road, and forgetting that if we pull a 
door open with great and sudden eagerness, it some- 
times slams shut again from the reaction ; I mean, we 
must not force things and forget the prejudices and 
bringing up of the person we have to deal with. A 
Moslem's religion is twined up with his political, social, 
and domestic life so minutely, that the whole rope, as it 
were, has to be untwisted before he can be free from 
error, and the very admixture of truth in their book 
makes it harder in some respects to refute than if, 
like the heathen doctrines, it was all wrong throughout. 

" Perhaps the intense self-righteousness of Moslems 
is after all the hardest point about them ; their notion 
that in the end all who are Islam are safe, strengthens 



Il8 WHO IS SHEf 



them in this belief, and though many make pilgrim- 
ages to Mecca to gain purification from sin, I do not 
find that there is a sense of being lost, either with or 
without pilgrimages and prayers. The only thing 
absolutely essential to final salvation being of *el 
Islam/ Mind, I don't say this is book doctrine, only 
it is what is held by nearly all women and most men 
I have come in contact with (I know more of the 
poor, of course, than of the better sort). Many of 
the higher class of men, who have studied in France 
for a few years, hold to their own religion mainly 
from political motives, and are secretly a sort of 
Deists ; but they generally cling pretty strongly to 
the forms which belong to their country, and which 
would not only give offence to abandon, but cost in 
all probability all they hold dear in the world, per- 
haps life itself. The infidel books in French, so 
much read by the more cultivated ones, and the 
vices of so-called Christians in the great cities of 
Europe, and, alas, in too many who have settled 
here, are books that can be read, unhappily, alike 
by all who see them ! I told Zohrab Bey once that 
an ungodly Christian was a thing that could not exist, 
a simple contradiction in terms, and that the persons 
he quoted to me were no more Christians than a pig 
would be a sheep because he had got into a sheep- 
fold ! He replied, * The shepherd would drive out 
the unclean beast!' *Yes,' I replied, 'because he 
knows that swine will always remain such, but the 



WHO IS SHE? 119 



Almighty can change even vile sinners in His mercy, 
and gives them the opportunity of repenting.* I said 
no more ; here a little and there a little is the best 
way. Long preachings, from one of our sex, especially, 
would never answer ; but a clear reason of the faith 
that is in us, a readiness to answer any intelligent 
question, in short, in any way that seems to offer 
itself, the putting forward the light of the Gospel, 
this is all we can do, except constantly praying that 
our zeal may be tempered with prudence, and our 
prudence warmed by the fire of Divine love. There ! 
forgive my preaching, dear Clara. And now one word 
on practical matters ere I close: don't omit to let 
him see some of our most interesting institutions for 
Christian charity, the glory of our country, and one 
or two of the best hospitals and orphan schools, &c. 
So now farewell ; I must not add a word, more unless 
I were guilty of that abomination — crossing!'* 



CHAPTER X. 

THE POOR MAN'S CAUSE. 

ABOUT a fortnight after the visit of the Greek 
slave to Mrs. Hillyard*s farm, that lady arrived 
at her brother's residence in the city, just as the family 
were sitting down to breakfast, at eight o'clock, and 
the two elder children, who were privileged to be at 
the parlour-table, rose in tumultuous joy to greet 
Aunt Irene, who was a great favourite. 

** Welcome as a shower of rain would be ! " cried her 
sister-in-law Esther, kissing her affectionately, while 
her brother cleared a place at the table, and put a 
chair for her. " Now, sister, not a word till you have 
had your coffee ; it is quite hot, for we had but just 
begun breakfast. Etty and Harry, attend to your 
Aunt, and ask no questions about kittens and donkeys 
till she is rested ; it is a long ride at this time of year, 
and the sun is quite scorching, even at seven o'clock, 
in the open fields." 

Irene wanted, however, to tell her story, and had 
to be silenced two or three times by her brother's 
affectionate remonstrance, " Now sister, do be quiet." 



THE POOR MAN'S CAUSE. 12 1 

She was very frequently given that old-fashioned title 
in her family, for she had preserved her Oriental fond- 
ness for the words sister and brother, 

"Now, EdmuncJ, dear, I have finished my coffee, 
and you must hear why I came prancing in without 
any warning so early: I have a really important business, 
and you can help me. I have to go to the law courts, 
and without a gentleman I could hardly go, and you 
know them so well.*' 

" There, dear sister, that is really such a piece of 
feminine inaccuracy as I should hardly expect from 
you. I have to go to the land agency courts, my 
business being about land, but there are others of all 
kinds." 

" We shall have to go to two at least,'* replied his 
sister, "the land and the criminal courts. Now I 
must tell my story, or it will get so hot for being 
out, and, of course, they will keep us hours. I thought 
this was not one of your busiest days, but if it is, send 
your clerk with me." 

" No, I can spare a couple of hours very well," 
said he, throwing himself on the sofa beside her and 
making a sign to the children to be perfectly quiet. 

" Perhaps," said Irene, ** you heard of the murder 
which was committed on Tuesday, in the country — 
a man found dead with evident marks of violence, 
upon the Shubra road (there were three men, and 
two escaped and ran off), or rather, in a field not 
very far from the well-known road." 



122 THE POOR MAN'S CAUSE. 

" Yes, I heard of it, and it was said, by one of 
the two who escaped, that the assailants were 
negroes/' 

" So we all heard," continued Mrs. Hillyard, " and 
it was generally believed that they were either run- 
away slaves or free negroes in the employment of 
one of the proprietors in the neighbourhood. The 
man robbed and murdered had a large sum of money 
upon him; he was a Mohammedan, and was re- 
turning from the city with an acquaintance who 
lived near; the third was only a peasant who 
chanced to be walking in the same direction, not 
in any way connected with the others. Three men 
rushed out upon them, and the rich man was first 
knocked down, the others tried to defend him, or say 
they did, but being unarmed they were compelled to 
fly. Great suspicion fell on some blacks who were on 
the land next to mine upon the south side." 

" Not Zohrab Bey's ? " said her brother. 

" No, his Abbadaeh is to the north of mine ; this 
belongs to a black man, an aga of one in high quarters; 
he is immensely rich, they say. Well, the suspicion 
may be a false or a true one, I can't tell, but he bribed 
heavily. It is said his people, who had been appre- 
hended, were all set free without an examination. 
And now, brother, comes -my trouble : one of my 
peasants has been apprehended and put in prison." 

" One of your tenants ? " 

" More than a tenant ; he works for me. Such a 



THE POOR MAJSrS CAUSE. 123 

quiet, honest fellow, I do not believe there is a chance 
of his having been engaged in this wickedness." 

"But how," exclaimed her sister-in-law, "can they 
take him up without some reason^ however bad, for 
implicating him ? " 

" Dear Esther, have you lived here nearly ten years 
and do not know the circle within circle which compli- 
cates all transactions ? There is some spite against 
him probably. His wife thinks the sheikh of the 
village is his enemy, because he was so late in paying 
his taxes last year. His wife had been ill, and there 
was a bad Nile ; and then he was foolish, and would 
spend money on the wedding of his little girl — so 
ridiculous, for she was only twelve, and I told him to 
wait at least a year or two ; but he was like them all 
— must do as the neighbours did, or be laughed at. 
So the money went, and the taxes had to wait ; and I 
am much mistaken if the sheikh's grudge is not at the 
bottom of it." 

" Money seems to be at the bottom of everything in 
Egypt,*' observed Esther. 

" Unless it is at the top," said her husband, laughing. 
" Well, sister, we will go when you like ; but I am 
afraid it will be a hard matter to get the poor fellow 
set free, if you have not witnesses to prove an alibis 

" I have three, Edmund, two of my tenants and the 
lad who is my own servant ; all know that he was 
selling corn at Calioub on that day, and returned at 
least two hours before the murder happened. But if 



124 '^^^ POOR MAN'S CAUSE. 

the sheikh chooses to say he was not in the village 
at such a time, these witnesses will be looked on as 
liars, merely speaking to save a friend, and one is 
his own brother, certainly — but if it is true, I know the 
trouble is, how to prove it. The aga proved the inno- 
cence of his servants by paying a good sum of money, 
for being a busy time of year, it was inconvenient to 
have any of them taken away. I am not rich enough 
to do so. What is to be done, Edmund ? " 

" We will go and see at the police-court first, and 
then at the others. Have you thought of getting 
the necessary papers ; I mean the witness's affirma- 
tion } " 

" Here they are ; we got these, I and my agent, 
last night,*' said Irene, pulling out three pieces of coarse 
yellowish paper, signed with Arabic seals, and written 
Over in that language. 

**Such writing!" said Edmund ; "it would take a 
better scholar than I am to read them with perfect 
accuracy ; but I make out that they all witness the 
same thing, namely, that Hassan, son of Mohammed, 
was at Calioub till the afternoon of that day, and on 
hfe own field by sunset." 

" Yes, and the accusation is founded upon nothing 
further than the fact that during a part of that day 
the man was not as usual in his own field at work, or, 
as occasionally, in my stable ; they have no other 
atom of plausibility for this cruel apprehension. The 
murder was committed after sunset, and the murderer 



THE POOR MAN'S CAUSE. 125 

seen to be a negro. Hassan is an Egyptian, with not 
a trace of the negro about him, and is proved to have 
been at home at sunset. Only he has not a bag of 
money to prove his innocence." 

" Oh, poor Egypt ! But now come, dear Irene, put 
on your hat and let us be off. " 

" Shall Girgas, the agent, go with us ; he is below?" 
said she. " He only went to see a friend while I drank 
coffee and talked to you. He can witness that the 
man went to Calioub to sell wheat, though at the hour 
of his return he did not happen to be at the farm." 

" Well, let him come, if it is only to give a greater 
air of dignity to our visit by having a third person. 
Don't expect us till you see us, Esther ; you know 
what law courts are here." 

They drove to the police-office, and after making 
the depositions, were sent on to another, which was 
in a large building where various kinds of business 
were transacted. Deeds and conveyances were drawn 
up in one part, divorce cases were seen to in another, 
accusations for assault and robbery in a third, and 
so on. The great court, which was open to the street, 
and was only roofed over, had flights of wide stone 
steps on two sides, which were crowded with persons 
coming and going, many women being among them. 
A native friend of Mr. Hillyard's happened to be 
there, and found them, promising to give any assist- 
ance in his power, and to find the right person for 
their business. 



126 THE POOR MAN'S CAUSE. 

" What are all these women for ? " inquired Irene, 
pointing to the black-veiled females, whose robes of 
dark blue or checked mantles showed them to be 
peasants, except a few in shabby black silk cover- 
ings, who were citizens of a somewhat higher class, 
although apparently not very well off. 

" Oh, those come about divorce cases ; heaps of 
them are here constantly to get divorce papers signed, 
or to try and get their rights, poor things ! the portion 
due to them on being sent away, or that due for their 
children — often difficult or impossible to obtain ; then 
those townswomen in the black ' haharahs' are chiefly 
widows trying to get justice and something to eat. 
The husbands' relations grudge them every piastre, 
and often they have to struggle hard to get the little 
which the law accords them." 

"Truly," said Irene, "they do not recollect here 
that God speaks severely against judges who allow 
the widow and the fatherless to be wronged." 

" Recollect it ! my dear lady, they recollect nothing 
except what is impressed on their memory by a bag 
of money. God is great. Here and there is possibly 
one who knows what justice means, but * a shower in 
summer ' is not more rare." 

In that dry climate, where the very little rain that 
falls is in winter or early spring, this comparison said 
a great deal to the hearer's mind. 

"And who are those men with long sticks, who are 
so picturesque in their crimson robes and white 



THE POOR MAN'S CAUSE. 127 

turbans, that I wish I had my sketch-book at hand ? " 
she said presently, turning to her brother. 

" Oh, they are the attendants, or guardians if you 
like, of the place. See, just before us, two of them 
are trying to keep order ;" and he pointed to a group of 
turbaned peasants and partly- veiled country women, 
who were evidently in much excitement. The fore- 
most woman was trying to get close to one of the 
desks or stalls occupied by the writers, on one of 
which a handsome man, in a spotless white turban and 
orange-striped caftan, was leaning, his reed-pen be- 
hind his ear, with great coolness, answering her vehe- 
ment questions, while an older woman and the men 
of her party were endeavouring to calm her and pull 
her back. Irene heard her exclaiming, when they 
came near enough to understand her words, " To- 
morrow, after to-morrow, do you say? No, I will not 
wait any more. How many times have I come here 
and been told * after to-morrow 1 ' My lease is to be 
taken up, and meantime my children may starve 
because that son of a dog, my husband, that villain on 
whom may ten thousand plagues alight ! I say, who 
chooses to defraud me of everything. Was I not his 
wife?" turning back to the elderly man, who was 
pulling her sleeve and trying to quiet her by saying, 

" My daughter, peace ; be patient." 

" Was I not his wife, and a good one I Did I not 
wait on and serve him, and bring him sons ? and now 
am I not turned off for nothing but that he may 
choose a younger. May her eyes — " 



128 THE POOR MAN'S CAUSE. 

" Stop, stop, daughter, don't curse so !" cried the 
woman. "There shall be justice. Fear not, only 
wait, and he shall give money for the children's 
support. See " — and she opened part of her hand to 
display a piece of silver ; putting it in on the desk 
under a paper, so as to make a pretence of hiding it, 
she concluded, " This worthy scribe will speak for us 
to the judge, I am certain," smiling and winking at 
the man, but, poor soul! her bribe was not large 
enough for his rapacity, and he muttered something, 
pushing back the money and turning to his writing 
again with a determined air. 

" Oh, for pity, do me justice ! my poor children 
have nothing," cried the younger woman again, her 
angry tones sinking to a wail, as at this moment the 
men in red, with their wands, interposed, and not 
roughly, but very decidedly, made her move back ; 
and as the group was partly coaxed, partly hustled 
into the anteroom, Irene heard the words of " after 
to-morrow" called after her, and could not refrain 
from saying, " after to-morrow is the curse of Egypt" 

Irene's kind heart ached for the woman. Right or 
wrong, the delay and the bribe-taking were abomin- 
able ; but what could she do ? Not long after, she 
had the same thing to go through herself. She was 
told that Hassan's case was deferred till after to- 
morrow. They did not know that it meant more this 
time than mere delay ; and this was explained not 
manv hours later. 



THE POOR MAN'S CAUSE. 129 

She returned home next morning, leaving the affair 
in her brother's hands, and promising to send the 
agent, with one or two witnesses for Hossein, the poor 
peasant; but hardly had she entered the farm premises 
when a group of women, who had apparently been 
awaiting her, approached, and began to speak one 
after the other — ^^eager to tell bad news, as persons of 
that class invariably are. 

" Oh, dear Sitt, only listen : poor Hossein ! the 
cniel wretches ! God and the prophet punish them ! 
Oh, the sons of dogs, my brother, my brother ! " 

**My son, my dear son! child of my heart! oh 
that I live to see this black day ! " 

The last speaker was an aged creature, whose 
wrinkled face and bleared eyts and tattered garments 
made her a deplorable object ; but whose evident 
g^ief and affection must touch the hardest heart, as 
she sobbed and wrung her toil-worn hands, in the 
anguish of a mother whose child is in suffering ! One, 
who was weeping so hysterically that for some minutes 
she could not articulate, now clung to Mrs. Hillyard*s 
arm, who well knew she was the wife. 

*' Do tell me what it is, and do not all scream at 
once, my poor dear women ! '* she exclaimed com- 
passionately, patting the shoulders of the weeping 
tvife in Eastern fashion. 

" They have tortured him ! " burst from the lips of 
the heart-broken sister, who stood on the other side — 
** our Hossein, the father of six little ones, the best 

K 



130 THE POOR MAN'S CAUSE. 

man in all the village ; " and she began, alas ! to curse, 
as none, perhaps, but an Arab can ; poor thing, she 
knew no better ! 

" But what, on mere suspicion, without any proof 
at all ? Oh ! this is too dreadful. God, have pity ! " 
cried Irene, her own tears falling ; but with a strong 
effort, she recovered her composure, and, raising her 
voice, begged for silence. Her agent, Girgas, was 
approaching as fast as the crowd of\ women would 
allow him, and would tell her more clearly. They 
stopped for the moment, and some began, with 
the instinct of habit, to draw their dark muslin veils 
across the lower part of the face, at a man's appear- 
ance, holding it with one hand, or even with the 
teeth, for the poor country women rarely have the 
regular face-veil, supported by its brass tube, like 
those in towns. The wife, mother, and sister, how- 
ever, were quite unconscious of anything but their 
own grief, and continued sobbing and muttering 
curses and lamentations alternately, while the agent 
told his lady the sad case. He supposed that either 
there was some private spite or that the relatives of 
the murdered man were making a great demonstra- 
tion, and threatened to get the local authorities into 
trouble, if some one were not at once apprehended. 

" But every one knows the murderer was a negro," 
said Irene. 

" Yes, the witnesses both agree in that ; one said 
the negro sprung from behind a tree, and then fled, 



THE POOR MAN'S CAUSE, 131 

but the other was close, and actually saw him strike 
down the poor victim. There is no doubt of it having 
been a black ; but they try to make out that because 
Hossein was absent from his home at that hour, he 
and one from another place must have been accom- 
plices." 

"And upon such a miserable rag of suspicion as that, 
do you mean, they put this poor man to the torture } " 

"Yes, Sitt, I grieve to say it is too true; they 
want him to tell the murderer's name, which, of 
course, he cannot do any more than you can, and he 
has been beaten on the feet, so that he will be lame 
for weeks, if he does not die in prison ; so his wife 
and children must starve!" 

" No, we can prevent that," said his mistress, " if 
I had to divide my last loaf with them ; but this 
torture, oh, Girgas, cannot Mr. Hillyard do any thing } 
he knows so many people." 

" I will ride in this afternoon, Sitt, if you wish, and 
see your honour's brother. Now, all you women, do 
go to your homes," added the man, not roughly, 
however, for he was a kind-hearted fellow ; " my 
lady is tired — think what a ride she has had. You, 
Zeynab, don't stand gaping there like a fool" 
(turning to the youthful handmaiden, who, like most 
of the bystanders, was a distant relative of the 
victim) ; " go, child, at once, and get some coffee for 
the Sitt ; and you, my sisters" (to the women), " Qod 
pity and help you all ! Go home now." 



132 



THE POOR MAN'S CAUSE. 



" Stop a minute, Girgas ; is the bam empty ? " 
said his lady. 

" Yes, all the com is sold ; it is clear now." 

" Well, come in here a moment ; " and she entered 
the rude apartment in the court which was used to 
store grain, &c., in due season, and closed with a solid 
door and lock, which Girgas opened with a key in 
his pocket. Mrs. Hillyard beckoned the women to 
follow her, and said, ** We will ask our God to help us, 
before we ask the help of man;" and she immediately 
knelt down on the chaff-covered floor. Several did the 
same ; some, however, stood, having been told it was 
wrong to kneel when a Christian prayed. But all 
listened attentively as their friend poured out an 
earnest and touching supplication in their native 
tongue, pleading with the Almighty His own promise 
to have compassion on the poor and needy, and to 
look down on the afflicted. Several gave a hearty 
" Amen " as she concluded, and thanked her for her 
words of kindness, as she bade them farewell for the 
present, and went to rest in her own room. 

" If any one can help you, it is our Sitt," said one, 
taking the arm of the poor mother, who was tottering 
with weakness and sorrow coming upon her advanced 
age ; '* she is a believer in God, though she is a 
Christian, and I am sure He hears her prayers, for 
she loves the poor." 

•* By the prophet ! no Moslem could be kinder or 
better," said another. 



THE POOR MAN'S CAUSE. 133 

"And who is it that is so cruel to our poor Hossein ; 
is it not a Moslem ? The devil has his own to be 
found everywhere ; surely these are the children of 
darkness ! '* 

•*Ay," observed Girgas, as the sad group passed 
him in the yard, " ay, how often has my Sitt read to 
you, out of God's book, * By their fruits ye shall know 
them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of 
thistles?'" 

" Ah, true words ! true words ! Mr. Girgas. I can 
understand them now^' said one of the women. 

" If these men were God's servants," he continued, 
" would they be so wicked and unjust, and so cruel in 
their dealings } " 

" No, no ;* they are infidels, demons ! " cried the 
poor wife. 

" And my Sitt ; are her words and her actions not 
good ? Is not she a servant of God ? " 

" Truth is with you, Mr. Girgas ; she is sugar and 
honey," they replied, using a favourite Egyptian ex- 
pression of praise, as they trooped off, murmuring, 
" Mashallah ; God bless our lady, and have pity on 
poor Hossein ! " 



CHAPTER XL 

JUSTICE BY FAVOUR. 

SEVERAL letters were written by Edmund 
Hillyard about the affair of the peasant 
Hossein, but no results followed ; then he was sum- 
moned on business to Alexandria, and told his sister 
she had better call on a certain Pasha who was over 
that department of Government and try if she could 
induce him to do something for the release of the 
man. A friend who was known to this Pasha would 
accompany her, as a lady could not well go to the 
office of a great man by herself 

Accordingly Irene sent the wife of the poor captive 
to take him some necessaries the morning on which 
she arranged to call with Abdallah Bey (the friend), 
and desired that she should wait at her brother's 
house on her return from prison to hear what would 
be the effect of the visit on her husband's fate. 

At nine o'clock they drove into the court where 
was the office, and sent in their names, but a con- 
siderable time was taken up in messages and 
questions and long salutations and compliments be- 
tween Abdallah Bey and the doorkeeper and the aga. 



JUSTICE BY FAVOUR. 135 

Then when they were admitted another delay fol- 
lowed, while the black man told the secretary's 
assistant, and he told his superior, who went to tell 
the Pasha, that if it pleased him the Frank lady and 
the Egyptian gentleman were waiting to have the 
honour of a few words ; for there is red tape in the 
East as well as in the West, though the tying may be 
differently arranged. At last the great man was 
visible, a stout elderly person, with strongly Turkish 
physiognomy, and wearing a Parisian made coat and 
boots, &c., so that he looked as unoriental in his 
exterior as he was a thorough Turk within. 

He did not ask them to be seated ; the long habit 
of looking on women as inferior creatures had not 
been softened by a residence in Europe, as is the 
case with some. He did not intend to be rude, but it 
never occurred to him that it was rude to let a lady 
stand while he was sitting on a divan. As to the 
tnan^ he knew the fellow of old ; he had been his 
own brother's secretary formerly, and though he had 
risen since that, there was no need of any great defer- 
ence to him ! However, Irene did not in the least 
trouble herself; and after polite salutations and 
thanks for the honour of an audience, she begged her 
friend to explain the matter, which he did as briefly 
as he could. Then she ventured to add a few words, 
urging the cause of justice. 

*' But what is it to you ? you are a Frank ! " said 
the Pasha. 



1 36 JUSTICE BY FAVO UR. 

**0h that is nothing, your excellency; one must 
feel for the poor of the land one resides in, and I am 
a child of the country almost, having been here 
long." 

" True, you speak Arabic wonderfully well for a 
stranger ; you really are a daughter of the land ; " and 
he smiled quite in a friendly manner. But he Wcus no 
Egyptian himself, and did not care much about the 
children of the soil. 

This is far from being the case with all Turks; 
some have resided so long, or even been born in 
Egypt, that they have attached themselves to the 
country, and feel it their own ; but many, on the 
contrary, only like it as a source of wealth, and 
despise the people, and never talk Arabic except 
among those who have no knowledge of Turkish, 
keeping as much aloof as possible from natives. 
This Pasha was, unluckily for Irene, and yet more 
for poor Hossein, of the latter and not the former 
class of Turks ; he was, therefore, much harder to 
influence in the cause of an obscure peasant. 

" This man is really much injured," said she, after a 
brief pause ; " he is quite innocent, and has been 
tortured for nothing ! " 

" No, lady," replied the Pasha, " we do not manage 
things in such a way, I assure you ; you are doubtless 
misinformed ; " and he looked rather suspiciously at 
lier. 

" Is no one ever beaten on the feet through the 



JUSTICE BY FAVOUR. 1 37 

cruelty and injustice of underlings, who want to 
punish some one, and do not know the right criminal, 
or even who receive bribes to spare the right and 
punish the wrong man ? " 

" It is possible such things may have happened, 
but they are not allowed now ; we are just, and look 
carefully to business, and bribes, lady, let me tell you, 
are forbidden." 

" Of course, but they are nevertheless often taken,*' 
Irene said ; but she stopped short, for she saw Ab- 
dallah Bey's eyebrows raised with a significant look. 
She knew her own foible of hasty speech, and checked 
herself at once, the more readily that she observed 
the. Pasha's face looking more cold and stern than 
before. 

Her friend came to the rescue promptly, however, 
with some complimentary remarks, which she thought 
would have choked her, had she attempted them. 
He then went on to say the poor man, he fully 
believed, would be proved innocent in time, only he 
was now suffering sadly, and the lady being kind- 
hearted — and so on. 

The way thus opened again, Irene returned to 
the charge, and this time leaving justice alone, 
merely pleaded mercy, and spoke of the poverty of 
the family, &c. , till the Pasha relented a little, and 
said, " I will have the matter spoken about ; but it 
must rest with the Judge of the Court where such 
cases are tried, not with me." 



138 JUSTICE BY FAVOUR, 

Beckoning to a secretary, who was writing seated 
on a sofa at the window, a book on his knee, a paper in 
his hand, and an inkhom in his belt, he said, " Yousif, 
note down the name and residence of this peasant." 

Abdallah instantly produced a paper with these 
written on it, and handed it to the secretary. 

" Let Alee Bey,'' continued the Pasha, "be told to 
inquire carefully into the case. This is all I can do ; " 
and he made a polite, though cold salutation ; and 
Irene saw they were dismissed. 

As they went down the stairs, she asked her com- 
panion, in a voice he alone could hear, if it were 
strictly true that the Pasha could do nothing ? 

"On the contrary," he replied coolly; "it is not 
true at all ; a word from him would open the prison 
door at once." 

" Could we not try to see his mother ? I mean / 
might perhaps get access to her; I know he has a 
mother, and such are usually powerful." 

"It is your last chance, Sitt Irene," replied Ab- 
dallah Bey. " We must drive to your brother's, and 
afterwards to the residence of the Pasha ; this is only 
his office. Do you bring some money as a bribe to 
the chief aga, or we shall not have a hope of admit- 
tance, but as the matter is what they will consider 
a small one, three or four pounds may be enough." 

It was a good deal for a woman whose income 
was, though sufficient to allow of much charity, by no 
means very large, and generally portioned out before- 



JUSTICE BY FAVOUR, 1 39 

hand ; but she did not hesitate, it was only going 
without a new silk dress a few months longer. 

" You might also bring the wife with you," con- 
tinued the Bey ; " she can throw herself at the feet of 
the great lady, and kiss them, and weep, and thus 
help the cause." 

" I hope then she is unlike her son in having a 
Ijeart,'* said Irene. " Such a haughty, arrogant, dis- 
agreeable man ! How much pleasanter the l6wer 
class of people are to deal with ! It seems to me the 
shopkeeper of the smallest shop in this street, for 
instance, is more of a gentleman in manner, than this 
wealthy, proud man." 

" He is not a man of much education," said her 
friend ; " there are many, like him, who have been 
raised because they or their fathers were useful to 
some one in power, and who are not distinguished 
by learning, much less by benevolence, and of course 
are particularly apt to be haughty. It is, however, 
more than anything else, the hareem life that spoils 
men ; before they are grown up they are ruined by 
that system. There are, however, some noble excep- 
tions, as Mr. Hillyard knows, some Turks who, born 
in Egypt, love the country, and desire the good of 
the people, and who have greatly modified that 
hareem life, so far as to have only one wife, and to 
have their children educated. If instead of excep- 
tions, these men were numerous, Egypt would make 
rapid advances ; but, alas, they are few ! " 



140 JUSTICE BY FAVOUR, 

Abdallah Bey was himself a man of great intelli- 
gence, and well educated, for an Egyptian ; he was a 
Copt, or native Christian, and had been, as are many 
of his co-religionists, brought up to the business of a 
scribe. He had begun life as private secretary to a 
Pasha, had then entered government employ, and by 
diligence and more acquirements than most of his 
class, had risen considerably, been made a Bey, 
and had a large income. He knew from his early 
experiences all the inns and outs of Eastern law and 
politics, and was able to speak Turkish, and had 
some knowledge of both English and French. A 
better person to assist in such a case could not be 
found, provided he was kind-hearted enough to take 
a real interest in it, which he was, besides being a 
pious man as far as his light went. 

"You see, Sitt Irene," he continued, "if all were 
like our Minister of Education, for instance, there 
would be a wonderful change in Egypt in ten years ; 
but the bigoted and ignorant are the majority, 
and I fear their power is greater than Europeans are 
aware." 

" Do you fear any disturbance that you say this ? " 
she asked. 

" At present, no ! But should by any chance one 
of that set get into power, and make himself popular, 
there would be great danger of revolutionary troubles. 
However, you and I can do nothing, so let us attend 
to our little affair. Here we are at your house." 



JUSTICE BY FAVOUR, I4I 

Fortunately the Pasha's abode was quite near Mr. 
Hillyard's, so they soon reached it, accompanied by 
the wife of Hossein, who was named Mokatefy^ wrap- 
ped up in her simple dark blue mantle, with its pretty 
striped border of deep indigo and white. 

The carriage waited in the court of the house, 
which was built round three sides of a large enclosure 
according to the style of all old Egyptian houses. 
Abdallah Bey went in to find the black functionary 
and entreat him to accept the gift, which was, in 
fact, a donation from a much less rich person than 
himself. 

The fat, bloated, conceited-looking person in his 
black French coat and scarlet tarboush appeared duly, 
and saluted the Bey, whom he knew by sight He 
hesitated a good while, not from delicacy, but from a 
doubt whether those few pieces of gold were enough 
to make it worth troubling himself for them. How- 
ever, he reflected that money was always a good 
thing, and two words with his lady were no heavy 
labour, so he gave a grin of condescending gracious- 
ness, and said, "We will see!" closing his fingers 
over the gold as he spoke, and retired behind the 
hareem curtain that hung over the forbidden entrance. 

Another waiting, of course, during which Irene, 
sitting in an open carriage in a broiling sun, felt nearly 
done brown, in spite of a large white umbrella. At 
last they were summoned, and the gentleman had to 
take his turn of waiting, as it is hardly needful to say 



142 JUSTICE BY FAVOUR. 

he would not be admitted behind the curtain ; but he 
did not wait in the sun. The salamlik was prepared 
for gentlemen visitors expressly, and he was left to 
repose there and pass the time with his favourite 
cigarettes, while the lady and her peasant companion 
were ushered into an anteroom with plenty of divans 
all round the walls, but no other furniture, and no one 
to meet them. The peasant seated herself on the 
floor near the door, and patiently waited her fate 
(Egypt is a fine place for practising patience). Poor 
Irene chafed meanwhile like a horse in a tight curb, 
as the minutes went by, and no one appeared. . How- 
ever, she gave no outward sign of impatience but by 
the flashing of her bright eye and an occasional hard 
breath ; for she dared not betray herself to the slaves 
who were to be seen passing so near the curtained 
doors of the antechamber that she knew they were 
all within earshot 

Perhaps some English reader may fancy that the 
dignified matron who at length came on the scene (a 
very fat personage, clad in delicate lemon coloured 
silk gauze), made the graceful apologies usual with 
English ladies if their guests have been kept upwards 
of half an hour waiting, and said, " Excuse my delay, 
and so forth ; " not at all. Sitt Tafeda thought she 
honoured a Frank woman quite enough in consenting 
to receive her, and though her greeting was cere- 
moniously polite it was not cordial, far less apologetic. 

" Be seated," she said gravely, after the compliments 



JUSTICE BY FA VOUR. I43 

were over and the poor woman had knelt and kissed 
the hem of her robe, and then crouched up in the 
comer again. 

Irene then begged to be pardoned for her intrusion, 
thanked the great lady for receiving her, and with 
much tact narrated the poor man's case, resting mainly 
on his numerous family and his poverty. His inno- 
cence, she said very briefly, would, she felt sure, be 
proved, as he was absent from the scene of the murder 
at the time specified, and had no connection with any 
negroes, and a negro had been proved to be the 
criminal ; but knowing she would be looked on as a 
partizan, and her word go for little therefore, on that 
subject, she kept principally to the distress of the 
family, and then beckoned to the wife, who had risen 
and was only awaiting her signal to rush to her aid. 
Darting forward she flung herself at the lady's feet, 
which she kissed, sobbing, weeping, and pleading all 
at once. '* Her poor Hossein, the best man in the 
whole district ! his state was fearful, his feet swelled 
and black as that (holding up the end of the rusty 
black silk kerchief that bound her head), his six young 
children starving, the last a pair of twin girls, and 
the one before them a deaf and dumb boy — such a 
charge for a poor woman. By the head of thy father 
and by the Pasha's head, lady, pity the worse than 
orphans, and free their father. Have mercy for the All 
Merciful's sake; see our tears!" And so she went on 
with a torrent of language, waxing poetical in her 



144 JUSTICE BY FAVOUR. 

imagery and fluent as the most fluent orator in Par- 
liament. Would that many a dull preacher or 'stickit 
minister* would be as unhesitating in language and as 
racy in matter as was this poor creature ! But she was 
what they are not always (alas for themselves and 
their hearers ! ), most thoroughly in earnest, and wished 
with all her heart and soul for what she was pleading 
about The rather cold Turkish woman, spoiled by a 
lazy, luxurious, selfish life, and accustomed only to 
think of her own surroundings, was not unkindly if 
she got a chance of hearing the truth, and having the 
sorrows of others brought before her. She was touched. 
Irene's spontaneous kindness in taking so much 
trouble for a poor peasant, knocked a little at the door 
of her heart, and the passionate pleadings of the wife 
fairly opened it. Clapping her hands, she told the 
slave to send the aga to her directly ; that portly 
individual was in waiting, and his important sanction 
having been before given by the fact of his admitting 
the petitioners, she did not discuss the matter, but 
merely spoke a few words in Turkish, which meant 
that he was to request her son, the Pasha, to liberate 
the peasant on account of his large family, as soon as 
possible. 

Fresh protestations and prayers, fresh invocations 
of the prophet, and blessings and thanks to the noble 
lady, who made their sun to shine again, from poor 
Mokatefy, and warm thanks from Irene, while with a 
really pleasant and courteous smile (for mercy is sweet 



JUSTICE BY FAVOUR. 145 

to the giver), she signed to her to take up the prostrate 
female. Coffee was brought at this moment, and 
the poor woman was made to share, seated on the 
ground, near the door, as at first ; and after this they 
took leave, and rejoined Abdallah Bey. 

He advised Irene to wait yet a little longer, as the 
order to the judge would probably be given at once 
now. Nor was he mistaken ; in five minutes the secre- 
tary handed a small paper with a few words, signed. 



CHAPTER XII. 

THE PRISON. 

" T F you are not too tired, we will drive to the prison. 

1 We pass the office of the Judge on our way, and 
in the evening he goes to his house, and she would 
have to wait till to-morrow." 

" Is it then an order for immediate release > *' said 
Irene ; " I cannot read that involved writing well." 

" Yes, yes," said the Bey smiling ; " it only wanted 
two words, as I told you. But it is very hot, and you 
will be tired. 

" I ? And that poor fellow in the prison. Is Ae not 
more tired still ? No ; let us go on at once, if you are 
kind enough to spare me the time. 

" I am at leisure to-day, fortunately, and it is true 
the prisons here are not agreeable abodes to linger in 
a moment beyond what is inevitable. 

They drove on through the narrow streets, many of 
them shaded by mats supported by poles from roof to 
roof; but the air was like fire, as is apt to be the case 
in the end of June at noonday. 

The carriage at length stopped at the court where 
Irene had been with her brother on the first unsuc- 



THE PRISON. 



147 



cessful attempt. Abdallah Bey threaded the way for 
himself and his companions through the busy crowds; 
for being the hour at which most of the officials eat, 
the people who came on their own business were not 
now the only ones who were coming and going among 
the crimson-robed official attendants, lads in blue 
tunics more or less ragged, bearing trays of hard eggs, 
olives, cheese, bread, and hot boiled sheeps'-heads, 
with some other favourite edibles, were jostling little 
g^rls with water jars, and, rather to Irene's surprise, 
these all made their way up to the scribes seated at 
work in the inner rooms, many of whom purchased 
their refreshments and paused by turns in their writing 
to eat without leaving the divans on which they sat. 
The judge they were in search of, a large, dignified- 
looking man, in an immense white turban and a flow- 
ing gibbeh (a loose long robe with sleeves, worn over 
the caftan) of fine pistachio green cloth, was occupied 
with a plate of sheep's-head, which the seller had first 
cut up for him, so as to be easily taken with the 
fingers ; and they had to wait a few minutes, as it is 
thought very uncivil in the East to interrupt any one 
who is eating. But his meal was not long, luckily for 
their patience. He beckoned a boy to pour water 
over his hands, an Ibreek and tisht or basin and 
ewer of metal, being handy for the purpose ; and then 
Abdallah stepped up and handed him the paper, with 
a brief explanation and a courteous gesture of 
salutation. 



148 THE PRISON. 



He read it slowly, examined the signature suspi- 
ciously, then stroked his beard, and finally nodded, 
" Right ! " then motioned to a scribe near him to write 
two other papers which it seemed were necessary, 
gave them to Abdallah Bey, who read them both, and 
seeing all was according to law, which he well under- 
stood, bowed and saluted again, as did his two com- 
panions ; and they took their departure, and drove off 
again, this time to the prison itself. The Bey had 
provided Irene with a paper of admission to this, as 
she had told him she wished to see it, and with a large 
basket of bread. They were admitted without much 
difficulty, having the great man's paper, and found 
themselves in a large court somewhat like those of 
some of the palaces or good houses in size, but gloomy 
and dismal in its adjuncts. Soldiers walked up and 
down with measured tread; the walls were dingy 
and discoloured, and on two sides grated openings 
appeared instead of windows, at each of which a 
crowd of miserable, dirty, ragged beings, thrusting 
their naked arms through the bars and imploring 
" A morsel of bread, in the name of God and the 
Prophet ! " as soon as they beheld the strangers enter 
the court. All were apparently crowded in one or two 
large rooms, and as far as could be seen through the 
bars the place was dirty and neglected in the extreme. 

The prisoners* friends are supposed to supply them 
with food ; and though such as are destitute, or whose 
wives, reduced often by the absence of the bread- 



THE PRISON, 149 



winner to great misery, cannot bring them food, are 
entitled to a daily ration from the prison, it is only 
a piece of dry bread, and who can say that even 
that miserable portion is given them fairly, and 
that the turnkey does not withhold it, or a stronger 
prisoner snatch it and leave the weaker one to starve ? 
Certain it is that the wretched condition of the prison 
was enough to make Irene shudder, as she saw the 
claw-like hands of some famished creatures thrust 
through the bars, clutching at the bread which 
the soldiers threw in pieces from her basket, 
and tearing the morsels one from another, de- 
voured them with frenzied eagerness. She thought 
of the judge and his sheep's-head luncheon, and 
wished she had a whole sheep to give these poor 
wretches. The scene was most painful ; they fought 
and snatched and beat one another like fierce animals, 
till one of the guards threatened them with his 
bayonet-point and a few equally pointed words. The 
bread being now exhausted, they quieted down some- 
what, and she was able to turn round and see what 
Abdallah Bey was doing with the papers. Two 
officials were talking to him and reading, or rather 
listening, to them, and presently the one who seemed 
the chief gave an order, and the guard in charge 
went round to a small door and reappeared with the 
unfortunate Hossein limping feebly after him on his 
injured feet, which were bound with old rags. 

How different he looked, with his pale, sallow, 



150 THE PRISON, 



haggard face, soiled garments and halting gait, from 
the sturdy peasant, with his upright carriage and 
bronzed healthy face, who had entered that court some 
weeks ago ! What would it have been after a year? 
much longer, one could scarcely expect to find the 
man alive at all. 

Irene left the husband and wife, as soon as they 
were outside the precincts of the prison, to return to 
their village, giving them a small sum to hire a couple 
of donkeys, as it was of course impossible for poor 
Hossein to walk any distance, and she then drove to 
her brother's to rest for the remainder of the day, after 
taking a grateful leave of the kindly Abdallah Bey. 

" One has to recollect what our own prisons were 
before Howard's and Mrs. Fry's exertions," she re- 
marked to her sister-in-law, as they sat over their 
refreshing cups of tea that evening. 

"Yes," replied Esther; "Egypt is not in the nine- 
teenth century, in fact, but far behind ; still it is a 
pity an Oriental Howard does not appear." 

" There are benevolent men, and well-meaning ones, 
among the higher and more educated Egyptians," 
said Irene, " but they are a very small minority, I 
fear ; and as to enterprising patriotic men, devoted to 
the poor, and indifferent to wealth and advancement, 
where are they, I wonder ? " 

"Do you know," said Esther, "the people seem 
to me more cheerful, with all their troubles and 
the frequent injustice they have to bear than our 



THE PRISON, 151 



poor folk in England. How is it? Can it be only 
sunshine ? " 

"Sun helps, I do believe," said Irene, "to make 
people cheerful, natives of the country, I mean, but it 
is not only that ; people may be below resenting in- 
justice, as well as above it. A man who has a little 
education always chafes under a wrong, and if he is 
Energetic tries to rouse others also, and unluckily too 
often in the wrong and not the right way. The 
grand difficulty in this country is the want of honest 
trustworthy agents in almost every line ; and of course, 
when you have not these over prisons, they must be 
full of petty cruelties and injustices, even were the 
regulations better. Even in our own, there is a sad 
want of inferior officials who are fit to be trusted with 
so much power over their fellow-creatures, and in 
some respects, Esther, don't be shocked, if I say I 
think they have power to do almost worse than Egyp- 
tian turnkeys." 

" How can that be, when our laws enforce a suffi- 
ciency of food, and some degree of comfort and clean- 
liness, while they are herded together like wild beasts?" 

"That is worse, of course, in many ways ; but the 
watching and spying, and the solitude of some of our 
prisons (for they are, curiously enough, or were very 
lately, quite different in different cities) are, I should 
conceive, even more galling, if not tempered by 
humanity and discretion, than utter neglect, at least 
it must depend more on the officials. Recollect that 



152 THE PRISON. 



solitude is allowed, by those who have tried it them- 
selves, to drive people mad more than the odious 
company of bad fellow-creatures, hard as it seems to 
believe it for us who have not experienced either. 
However, our country is a reforming one, and though 
the salt be far too little, we have salt, and no evil will 
long be left without a champion." 

" After all, sister, it must be a struggle between good 
and evil all the time," said Esther ; " the only thing one 
can hope for is, that there should be a constant effort 
for right, and plenty of honest champions of truth and 
mercy. If England, with all her advantages and 
knowledge, has so many crying evils, we cannot be 
surprised to find them under the crescent." 

"Ah, that is true, Esther; we ought to be a full 
moon, and we are not ! But the day will come when 
all the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough 
places plain ; but that will be when our King comes 
again ; the * outcasts in the land of Egypt ' will not 
be forgotten then." 



CHAPTER XIII. 

THE BEY AT HOME. 

NEARLY a year had passed since the events 
related in our last. 

Zohrab Bey had returned, after an absence of six 
months, which was a shorter time than had been ex- 
pected. The sudden death of the minister, who was 
his enemy's special friend, brought another man into 
power, who was not only well disposed to him, but 
connected with his brother-in-law, who was his par- 
ticular companion. This news had hurried the Bey 
back to his home ; he had passed great part of his stay 
with Mrs. Hillyard's family, for whom he formed a 
strong friendship, and partly in a tour to Scotland. 
He then visited Switzerland, and was about to go on 
to Italy, when the letters he received showed that he 
might return in safety. He lost no time in travelling 
back, to the delight, as may be supposed, of his young 
wife. 

For the first few weeks after his return, Ain el Hayat 
seemed to be in Paradise ; nor was the Bey less happy 
in her society, the more so as she was so improved in 
mind that he was always being surprised and pleased 



154 THE BEY AT HOME, 

at the remarks she made, and the intelligent questions 
she asked about his travels. 

He had brought her photographs and various 
curiosities ; but nothing pleased her more than a 
keepsake from Irene's sister Clara ; a velvet cover for 
her New Testament, with an Arabic inscription upon 
it from the Psalms, " With thee is the fountain of life, 
and in thy light we shall see light." 

" My dear one," said Zohrab, " thou knowest some- 
thing now of those words and their meaning ; the lady 
said, thy name, being the fountain of life, would 
keep them in thy mind. She made one similar to it 
for me, but small." 

" Thy words are a little tarnished," she said, " with a 
smile that showed she knew why." 

"Yes, my little wife has guessed it. I carry this 
book often in my pocket, for now I read much in it ; 
it is a New Testament, and not so heavy. I have the 
whole Bible, as you know, in two or three editions." 

They understood each other perfectly ; both had 
made progress in the knowledge of the truth ; they had 
begun to have their eyes opened ; but neither would 
say how great the change was. With Ain el Hayat, 
indeed, she did not know herself how deep-rooted 
was now her belief in a Saviour. It had been so 
gradual and gentle, and her life so monotonous and 
quiet, that she hardly thought of looking back 
mentally to her own state formerly. 

With the Bey it was different ; he had been among 



THE BEY AT HOME, 155 

Christians as well educated and devoted as Irene Hill- 
yard, but of various dispositions and ways of thinking ; 
he had discussed and argued with his own sex. His 
English friends had dealt wisely and faithfully with the 
stranger, who came to sojourn among them for a time. 
They had introduced him to educated and pious men, 
not to clever infidels, knowing he was, though, any- 
thing but weak in character, yet a mere child in know- 
ledge of the truth ; and though in general society 
occasionally he might come across such, the inti- 
mates of the family were Christians ; and the old 
and experienced lady who was head of the house did 
her best to bring judicious Christians to meet her 
Egyptian friend. Zohrab Bey was thoughtful by 
nature, and the conversations he had in England were 
gone over again in his mind while travelling ; but 
except on the occasion of his giving the book cover 
to his wife, he did not repeat anything to her of what 
he had talked about He read to her daily, and now 
and then made a remark ; but his tongue seemed 
tied for some reason or other. He was soon a good 
deal occupied with a place under the Government, 
procured for him by his brother-in-law. The days 
passed into weeks, and weeks into months, and 
by degrees, almost imperceptible at first, a change 
began to be seen in Zohrab. His wife naturally 
perceived it first. He was as affectionate as ever, but 
became less cheerful and more silent daily ; then he 
took to being alone in the evenings, and would tell her 



156 THE BEY AT HOME. 

he wished to write, and could not be disturbed, 
though what he was writing he never mentioned. 
Ain el Hayat was too humble a wife to think of 
asking what her husband wrote ; but formerly she 
knew he would have told her, if but a little note 
of business, without being asked. Vague thoughts 
flitted through her mind, but she tried to drive them 
away, and to be as pleasant and lively as she could ; 
for might it not be merely that he felt languid from the 
heat or some such trifle ? It was now more than a 
year since his departure, as has been said, and the 
summer had given place to the autumn. The season 
had been particularly hot before the inundation, and 
many who were not actually ill, felt weary. Then 
his mother began to notice the change, and said her 
son's spirits were flagging, though he did not look ill, 
and that he must have had an eye light on him. He 
laughed when she said it, and for a few days was 
better; but the gloom and restlessness came back, 
and Sitt Fatmeh put her own construction upon the 
matter. 

Irene HiUyard had seen the family on the Bey's 
return, and sympathised in their joy, but shortly 
afterwards had been at Alexandria to see an invalid 
friend, and stayed some time ; then one of her 
brother's children was ill, and came to recover at the 
farm, and after that, one thing after another seemed 
always to arise to hinder her seeing her young friend 
as often as she wished; and when she did come 



THE BEY AT HOME. 157 

Zohrab Bey was rarely at home ; if she saw him it 
was only for a minute. She began to think he 
avoided her, and that it could not be chance, for in 
former days he had enjoyed holding discussions with 
her. She felt sorely disappointed. On his first return 
home she had been greeted so cordially, and the Bey 
had thanked her so warmly for introducing him to 
her family, and spoke of her stepmother and brother, 
and Clara, the single sister, with so much regard and 
gratitude, and had even added that they had often 
read and conversed with him and other friends about 
the captive, that her hopes had been high, and now 
he seemed drawing back from the subject altogether, 
and from their pleasant friendly intercourse. It was 
true, he still allowed her full freedom in reading with 
his wife when she called, and she must be thankful 
for that, but she felt puzzled. They had now reached 
the middle of September, and the cooler breezes of 
evening and the pleasant dewy mornings had set 
in, and the Egyptian second spring begun. The 
roses were putting forth fresh buds, the fields began 
to assume a green hue wherever the waters of the 
inundation were subsiding. In others the sower was 
still busy going forth to cast his bread upon the 
waters. Irene stood on a raised path one day, 
watching the labourers at their work. How pretty 
the scene was 1 the palm grove with its feathery 
foliage glistening in the morning sun, and the clusters 
of dates hanging in rich profusion, looking like some 



158 THE BEY AT HOME. 

wondrous jewels of the " Arabian Nights," some of a 
coral red, others of a yellow so bright that when the 
sun's rays touched them they seemed of the purest 
gold. 

The cheerful fellah was following his buffaloes 
along the pathway, or with his bag of corn scattering 
seed on the fields, springing lightly from one clod to 
another to avoid sinking in the soft mud, and some- 
times obliged to stand on the higher ground and fling 
it as far as his arm could throw, where the earth was 
still under water. 

Irene stood gazing a long time, and at last repeated 
the text aloud, which had come naturally into her 
mind : " Cast thy bread upon the waters, and thou 
shalt find it after many days." " Yes, yes ! that's it ; 
I have the key I do believe ! I see why Zohrab Bey 
is so depressed ; he has received the good seed, but 
there is a struggle before it puts forth the shoot. The 
seed is there, it shall be found after many days ; but it 
is still underground, and oh, the enemy of souls will 
try to destroy it. That seed was not dropped on the 
highway, I am sure. It won't be snatched by the 
fowls ; but there are insidious worms even in the good 
ground; only we have the promise if it be really 
good ground it will bring forth one day abundantly. 
I long to speak, but one may do harm by pulling up 
a plant to see if it is growing well ; I must pray and 
wait." 

She turned back, for it was breakfast time, and her 



THE BEY AT HOME. 159 

early morning walk must end. At the door of the 
farm she saw Eurydice (as the former slave was now 
called) sitting on the threshold, with a little boy 
standing before her, whose bruised arm she was care- 
fully bandaging with some of her healing decoctions, 
and as she approached Irene could hear her low 
voice speaking to the little fellow. 

" Now, my little son, your arm is nearly finished, is 
it better ? Well, repeat the words I taught you ; don't 
be afraid, say them nicely.*' 

" Bless the Lord, O my soul, who healeth all thy 
diseases, who forgiveth all thy iniquities." 

" That is right, little son 1 " She then gave him a 
kiss and sent him away. 

What a change from the hopeless, weary woman 
was this nursing sister, as Irene called her ! She rose, 
and, greeting her with an affectionate, smiling saluta- 
tion, went with her into the parlour, where the little 
servant had laid the meal; not the young Zeynab, 
alas, she was married ! Just as she was beginning to 
be useful to herself and others, her parents insisted on 
finding a husband for her, saying twelve was a good 
age to be married, nor could all Irene's representations 
prevent their carrying off the poor child and establish- 
ing her in the hut of an old mother-in-law, who made 
her a complete drudge. As usual, when once the cele- 
bration is over and the jewels hired or borrowed for 
the occasion restored to their owners, a very prosaic 
life for the little bride sets in, and she is a hewer of 



l6o THE BEY AT HOME. 

wood and drawer of water to her husband's mother 
till her early years are past, and she gradually as- 
sumes more power. Still, the good of the training, 
though far less than the mistress would have wished, 
was not all wasted; there was a certain degree of 
development, because the mind and heart, as well as 
the body, had been thought of. If we neglect this 
with ignorant native girls, their bit of civilization 
drops off when the clothes they brought from their 
situation are worn out. 

But young Zeynab could say the Lord's prayer, and 
understood it too, and knew some scripture stories ; 
and though not a converted girl, was, at least, an 
awakened one, and Irene felt hopeful about her. The 
next sister, Khaira, was her present maiden, and, 
under the efficient superintendence of Eurydice, who 
was more constantly at home than herself, had im- 
proved much more rapidly. The cousins always ate 
together morning and evening ; at mid-day, Eurydice, 
who was used for so many years to the irregular 
habits of the peasants, did not care to sit down to a 
meal, but preferred to take some bread and cheese 
and olives or a few eggs when she happened to be 
hungry ; and Irene let her do as she liked and feel 
free. She was repaid for her kindness by steadily- 
increasing affection, and, as she told her sister-in-law, 
it was a special mercy in the case of her little niece, 
for the child needed great care, and Irene had a severe 
cold at the time. Eurydice nursed both and managed 



THE BEY AT HOME. l6l 

the house in a way only a really capable woman 
could, and was, as she said, " no end of comfort ;" " and 
she is a real believer too," added Irene on that occa- 
sion ; " she often tells me she has peace like a 
river now^ 

On this morning there happened to be a village 
accident case to attend to ; and with a labourer as an 
escort, the Greek set out with her herbs and other 
matters. It was a painful, but not a dangerous affair, 
and quite within a nurse's compass. Irene, meanwhile, 
sat down to some writing. She had been occupied till 
nearly noon, when clapping of hands told that some 
visitor stood without, that being the usual summons 
in the country, where doors are generally open by 
day, and, if shut, have no knockers. 

" Come in," she called ; " who is there, and what do 
you want?" 

A Nubian lad whom she recognised as a favourite 
attendant of Zohrab Bey then entered, and with a re- 
spectful salute, handed her a note. It was from the 
secretary, to request her to come over to the city as 
early as was convenient. She glanced at the lad, 
whose face betrayed agitation. 

*' I will come directly ; but tell me, Mahmoud, is 
the Bey ill or the lady > " 

** The lady. She is not very ill, but not quite well, 
and the Bey told' me to come ; she wants you directly." 

Irene tried to learn more, but all her questions only 
extracted the information that the Bey had been 

M 



l62 THE BEY AT HOME. 

summoned by his brother-in-law for some business 
early that morning, and that before he went out he 
had desired the Nubian lad to take a donkey and ride 
to the English lady with that message, as he under- 
stood the Sitt Ain el Hayat was not well, and thought 
if the English lady would be so kind as to come and 
stay a little with her it would be very kind, and he 
ordered the carriage to drive as far as where the path 
that was only fit for riding met the high road, in 
order to save her the fatigue and time which she 
would have if she rode all the way. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

THE MYSTERY. 

IT was still early in the afternoon when Irene 
arrived at the town residence of Zohrab Bey. 
Every thing appeared as usual ; there was no air of 
fright or anxiety among the slaves whom she met as 
she went upstairs ; but they were only the negresses, 
the five white ones did not appear. 

Sitt Fatmeh was at the curtain-door, apparently 
going towards the little room, where her son wrote 
and kept his papers. She paused on seeing the 
visitor, whom she did not expect, evidently, and her 
greeting was not very cordial ; but she looked rather 
pre-occupied than suspicious or inimical. 

After saluting her, Irene went towards the apart- 
ment of Ain el Hayat. She saw a white slave on the 
watch for her, and was at once conducted to the room 
where the fair Circassian was lying on the divan as 
pale as death, and her long hair hanging dishevelled 
on the cushions, while her dress showed less care 
than usual, the muslin being crumpled, and looking 
as if she had slept in it (which was the case, indeed). 



1 64 THE MYSTERY. 



" What is it, my sister, my friend ? tell me ?" said 
Irene, kneeling by the sofa and taking her hand. 

She raised her head sobbing hysterically, and vainly 
trying to speak for some [minutes ; at last she ejacu- 
lated, " Nothing, nothing, I am only tired ! " 

However, her visitor saw her glance at the slaves, 
several of whom were hanging about her, while the 
old black nurse was vigorously rubbing her feet, which 
in the East, is supposed to be a comfort, if not a 
remedy for every malady. 

Irene had fortunately brought her smelling salts, 
and these assisted the poor young creature to rally 
her strength a little and sit up. She begged the 
slaves to leave her with the English lady, saying that 
she wanted to be alone with her. They rather re- 
luctantly withdrew, one after another, except the 
nurse, who would have been much offended if she 
were supposed to be included in the banishment But 
her mistress did not, even in her trouble, lose her 
natural tact and gentleness ; and she made an excuse 
to send the old dame away, telling her she wished to 
try some drink which would take some time to pre- 
pare, and that she might bring it in half an hour. 
As soon as the room was clear, she rose and led her 
friend into the dressing-room, which had a door and 
lock, and having shut and locked it, sat down with 
her on the sofa. 

" Now we can speak," said she ; but it was some 
moments before she could get out another word, and 



THE MYSTERY. 165 



Irene had to make her drink cold water and bathe 
her forehead before she could gain composure. 

" Dear sister, how kind you are ! I am now better, 
and it will be a relief to tell you all my sorrow, 
though I fear you cannot help me, but you will ask 
God to do so. He alone can help." 

" In any case I will pray for you, but I can better 
plead for something which I know than when in the 
dark." 

" You shall hear. But first answer me a question — 
have you observed any change lately in the Bey ? " 

'* I see him but seldom," replied Irene, " but I am 
sure that he has some struggle going on in his mind 
from what I observe." 

" There ! I was certain you were sharp, and would- 
detect it" 

Irene was going on to tell her what she thought the 
struggle was between religious convictions and old 
habits, and the dread of a future full of trials if he 
should embrace Christianity ; but Ain el Hayat gave 
her no time to get in a single word. 

"Yes, I see now," she exclaimed, "why he has 
avoided talking and sitting with me as before. Evil 
be on the day on which my light became dark- 
ness!" 

" Oh, my dearest Sitt, don't talk so ; do be calm, 
for otherwise they will hear outside, and we cannot 
talk. Tell me quietly all about what vexes you." 

"You are right, my sister," said Ain elJHayat. 



l66 THE MYSTERY. 



" Listen, and I will talk calmly, and tell you every- 
thing." 

Like almost all Orientals, she gave, not the result 
of a conversation, but, as far as possible, every 
word of it. 

" Yesterday my mother-in-law called me after 
supper to come into her room. *Ain el Hayat,' 
said she, ' thou art a good daughter and a good wife ; 
thou wilt not therefore be displeased, my child, at 
what I am going to say.* I trembled in myself, and 
thought ' on what evil can we have alighted to-day ? 
for something bad will follow these words.' She 
continued, * Thou hast doubtless noticed the gloom 
and dulness of the Bey thy lord lately ; how he goes 
by himself ; how if he is cheerful for a little time, he 
suddenly becomes as solemn as if an earthquake were 
going to take place ; and this is increasing. Last 
week he sat up nearly all night in the writing-room. 
Hast thou not seen this ? Every slave in the hareem 
says " the eye of evil has touched our dear lord surely." 
Can his wife, then, alone have observed nothing?' 
Finding she required an answer, I replied, * Mother, 
I have also seen it. But God is great ; let us hope 
the cloud will pass away.' 

" 'Tell me, my daughter, if thou knowest it, the reason 
of this cloud ?' she continued. 

"I replied, * The secrets of the heart are with God.' " 

Here Irene again attempted to interpose by sug- 
gesting her own view of the alteration in Zohrab Bey, 



THE MYSTERY. 1 6/ 

but so absorbed was poor Ain el Hayat in her own 
grief and its cause, that she became quite agitated at 
the interruption. 

" I shall not be able to go on if I stop oncel' she 
said ; " I recollect every word now, but if you do not 
let me go straight through the conversation, I shall 
get confused and begin to cry." She seized the water 
jar and hastily swallowed a few mouthfuls of water, 
and then went on with her somewhat prolix, but faith- 
ful, account of the evening's conversation. 

"'True, daughter,' answered my mother-in-law, 
' the secrets of the heart are indeed with God, but 
mothers are appointed by God, and they, more than 
any others in the world, know the causes of grief in 
their children ; thou dost not know this, for thou hast 
never known a mother, nor art thou one thyself, un- 
happily. I know why my son is changed, and I 
perceive that thou art quite in ignorance.' 

" * I have a right to know,' I said ; * but why did h^ 
hide from one who loves him more than life anything 
that weighs down his soul ? ' 

"'I will tell thee, my daughter ; he feared to vex 
thee, and doubtless has been trying to get courage to 
say what might bring tears to the eyes he loves. 
Listen, then : on your wedding day he promised to 
take no other wife.' 

" * And he will keep his word,' I cried, unable longer 
to restrain myself ; ' my lord is true and good, he will 
never deceive me!' But my heart grew cold and hard 



1 68 THE MYSTERY. 

with anguish, as she said the words, for I guessed 
what was coming. 

"* His heart is white/ said Sitt Fatmeh, calmly; 
but he has been nearly four years married, and has no 
heir. Besides, there is another reason why he should 
wish to do as others do, and as our laws permit 
His enemy, Ahmed Mohammed, is not dead ; his 
power is for a time lessened, if not gone, as he has 
now few friends in the ministry. But he is cunning, 
and it behoves my son to be on his guard, and to 
make powerful friends if he can. One of the ministers 
is, as you know, friendly to our family, being con- 
nected with my daughter's husband. He likes 
Zohrab, and has lately introduced him to his brother, 
a man of influence and wealth, who has a marriageable 
daughter ; she is, in fact, older than thou wert when 
Zohrab married thee ; this brother of the minister's 
is called Mohammed Saleem. All the family are 
anxious to be in friendly relations with us, and have 
found means to let us know that they would like to 
give this girl to Zohrab. His being married is no 
sort of difficulty. Many have three or four wives, as we 
all know ; and many have hundreds of slave wives 
besides those legally united by the Mollah. But this 
I do not like, it brings much expense and much 
trouble and vexation. I rejoice that my son is not of 
that disposition to wish for hundreds of wives ; but a 
second is quite reasonable, especially when there are 
such good causes for his taking her : first, the security 



THE MYSTERY. 169 



to himself of making so valuable and powerful a 
connection ; then the danger of affronting a man in 
power by slighting the offer he has indirectly made of 
bestowing on my son his brother's daughter ; and, 
lastly, the fact that he has no heir, which is considered 
in this country reason enough alone/ 

" I sat silent, with a dagger, as it seemed, sticking 
in my heart. Seeing I could not speak, she went on : 

" 'I have seen the dalala (female agent) who has been 
employed to speak to me about it ; of course, such 
people are not to be depended on, they tell such lies ; 
if a girl is humpbacked they describe her as a houri. 
But I sent, privately, a friend on whom I can rely, and 
one of our slaves ; and the report is very favourable. 
The girl is not so handsome as thou art, pretty one, 
all the better for thee ' (and she actually laughed), 
but is very well-looking, fair and plump, and with 
good features, and seems very good tempered, and 
lively also/ 

" 'Have you yet spoken to my lord?' I said, forcing 
myself to speak. 

" 'No,' she said, * his friend has mentioned it, or his 
brother-in-law, I do not know which ; one of them 
was to speak to him. I am going to see and speak 
on his return to-night. I wished to see you first, Ain 
el Hayat, that there may be no secrets among us, and 
that you may have time to get over the affair, and 
not make a fuss about it. I am certain Zohrab wishes 
to accept the offer; nay, that the cause of his low 



I/O THE MYSTERY, 



spirits is that he wishes for another, but does not like 
to vex one he too loves truly. What, my daughter, art 
thou the only woman in Egypt ? We have all the same 
thing to bear. The father of Zohrab had three wives, 
and when the second came I cried, certainly; I was the 
first, and, being a Pasha's daughter, and not a slave, 
felt proud and expected to be alone always ; but my 
father was dead, I had no brothers, my lord could do 
as he chose. I got over it ; and, after a while, he took 
a third ; she is alive yet, but we are not on good terms, 
and do not visit therefore ; but with the second I got 
on pretty well. There, now,' she continued, patting 
me on the shoulders, ' be at ease, and do not fret God 
is great and merciful, and when one has carried a 
burden a little the back becomes accustomed to it 
Mohammed Saleem is anxious his daughter should be 
well married and kindly treated, otherwise he might 
have found her a wealthier match. We are tolerably 
rich indeed, but not so much so as many others are ; 
but he thinks his daughter will be happy in this con- 
nection because of Zohrab's good character. Who, 
indeed, would not be happy with such a husband ? ' 

" I could not endure these words, and hiding my 
head in my veil, I wept the bitterest tears that ever 
flowed before, I think. 

** 'Come/ said my mother-in-law, *do not be silly; my 
son, I am sure, wishes this, and only hesitated at first 
because he fears to leave you angry and unhappy.' 

" I interrupted her ; ' Sitt Fatmeh ! ' I exclaimed, 



THE MYSTERY, 171 

' why do you call your son a man of truth and 
honour, while you think he wishes to break his 
promise, given to me in your presence, as well as 
when we were alone together ? ' 

** * My little foolish one ! * she answered smiling, as if 
the affair were about the breaking of a glass cup, 
instead of the breaking of a loving wife's heart, 
' dost thou not know our Koran says, " a man 
may without sin deceive his wife,' " in order to please 
her of course. Every one tells lies to a bride ; a 
bride is young and timid ; her bridegroom is natur- 
ally a total stranger, and he wishes to please and 
cheer the poor fluttering dove, and get her to peck 
from his hand. Ha, ha, ha ! So the first few weeks 
he says anything to please her ; but the law does not 
bind him to keep all those promises.' 

^ ' I want only one, as he gave me only one promise,' 
said I, my face burning with anger I could not hide 
longer ; ' and I do not believe he will break it, he 
fears God, and loves me.* " 

" * My child,' she said, ' I never denied his love : 
God forbid! but the law of our land, and the customs 
of our fathers, ordered by the holy prophet Moham- 
med, all permit several wives to men ; why should 
you be different from the rest? You are not a 
Christian ? ' and as she said the last words, she 
gazed at me with a questioning face, that rather 
frightened me ; for Sitt Irene, I love the book of God 
now more than the tales they taught me. 



172 THE MYSTERY. 



"But I was frightened. I said secretly to God,* Oh 
Lord the merciful, pity and help me ! ' then I said 
aloud, ' Sitt Fatmeh ! the Christians are at least in 
this respect better than we are.' 

" ' Christians better than we ! Oh, Ain el Hayat, 
art thou like the infidels, whom Grod will burn 
by-and-by ? ' 

" * David the prophet says, that the wicked shall be 
turned into hell, and the nations that forget God. I 
learned the words,* said I boldly; *you believe David 
was a prophet, well ! these are his words. He does 
not say, in all his Psalms, any word about God 
giving His blessing to those who deceive their wives 
and break their promises. ' 

** ' David was a prophet, and so was Mohammed," 
my mother-in-law answered ; * and if one says it, 
it is quite enough. I like your English friend, 
daughter; she is kind to the poor, is good and 
sweet, and I hope God will not let her, for these 
reasons, be reckoned with the rest of the Christians, 
who eat pigs' flesh and drink spirits, and are a 
thousand times accursed. But her ways and belief 
are not ours. We are Islam, and must do as our 
fathers. Why, child, Abraham had more than one 
wife ! is Zohrab to be wiser than the friend of God ? 
Solomon had even hundreds ; what can you say ? ' 

" I said, for I will not repeat all " (looking at her 
watch), " the time is passing, that the old times were 
different, just as you had taught me, and as Zohrab 



THE MYSTERY. 173 



said himself many times to me. Besides he told me 
though God allowed many wives in those times, He 
did not praise or bless them for the custom ; on the 
contrary, trouble and sorrows came from it, and never 
any good. He made our father Adam one wife ; 
Noah had one, and also his sons; and the Lord 
Jesus said that a man and his wife were one. He 
would be angry if we do not hear His word ; and 
we ought to go back to the first creation in 
this matter, and not carry on the mistakes of our 
fathers." 

"Really, my dear sister," interrupted Irene, "you 
recollect wonderfully all we have talked of and read. 
But why, then, are you so unhappy, if Zohrab is so 
steady for the right ? They can't marry him against 
his will!" 

** Listen, beloved friend," said Ain el Hayat, " and 
you will see that if my well is not quite dry, there is 
hardly more than one drop of water in it ! 

"My mother-in-law reproached me a good deal 
with being too learned for a woman ; but then she 
added more kindly, 'I don't desire to make you 
sorry, daughter ; you have always pleased me and 
obeyed my wishes; nor do I wish Zohrab to care 
more for another than you. Always you will be his 
favourite' (at this word, Sitt Irene, I shuddered as if 
one had thrust my feet into hot ashes and burnt me. 
His favourite/ I — my lord's true wife ! I could have 
killed her for the odious word, but I restrained my 



174 THE MYSTERY, 



anger, and sat still). * He is sad/ she went on, 'Tor 
want of an heir, and also he is not quite at ease 
about his enemy. To strengthen his connections a 
marriage with the daughter of the minister's brother is 
the best thing in the world, to say nothing of the fact 
that to refuse would most probably injure him much. 
" * Now listen, daughter. This girl has, by chance, 
had a sight of Zohrab. It was wrong, of course ; but 
God forgive her, it was just an accident, so the female 
agent informs me. She was at the window in the 
hareem, and he was standing in the garden talking 
with her father, and they lingered for some minutes. 
Her father's back was to the window, but Zohrab's 
face was that way, and from that moment she loved 
him. Her father had already proposed the match 
through a friend, but had not said a word to her or 
her mother ; only the agent, of course, let it out as 
those old women do, you know.' I don't know what 
she said after this. I seemed to see a mist before 
my eyes, and almost fainted ; but I struggled against 
it with all my might, and she called a slave to bring 
water and made me drink, and then left me. I lay 
on the divan for a long time and cried, and at last 
went into a sort of troubled sleep. Zohrab did not 
come to supper; he was with some friends, and I 
could not eat I went to my room early, and heard 
him come home before midnight His mother called 
to him and said, loud enough for me to hear (but she 
thought me asleep), * Ain el Hayat has a head-ache, 



THE MYSTERY. 



175 



and is gone early to bed, and had not better be 
disturbed. I have a word to say to thee, my son ; 
come in here a moment.' 

" It was a warm night, and I suppose he was not 
tired. I heard them go across the anteroom, and 
lay listening a long time. At last I lost conscious- 
ness, but it was only to dream that I saw a strange 
woman driving me out of the hareem, and I awoke 
with a scream. I have not seen my lord since." 

There was a long silence ; Irene was thinking. 
Presently she said, " I don't believe it ; I am nearly 
sure that the Bey is only restless and gloomy because 
he knows that he ought to be a Christian, and cannot 
make up his mind to the risk and trials that might, 
nay must ensue ! " 

" A Christian ? Impossible ! " cried Ain el Hayat. 
" And yet," after a pause, " it is true he believes that 
the Lord Jesus is our Saviour, and that the Bible is 
the only true book. Still, I don't think he will dare 
to turn Christian ; they would kill him." 

" Well, I have told you my opinion, my dear, and 
I maintain it. I don't think he has any idea of 
another wife." 

" Oh, but my sister, my dear friend ! you don't 
know how mothers work on people here ; they go on 
at a thing of that sort, and at last— oh, Sitt Irene, 
God is good, why did He not give me a son ? She 
would have no excuse then." 

** God knows why, my sweet one. He may yet 



176 THE MYSTERY, 

grant you the blessing, if it is right for you ; but your 
husband has not yet been waiting twenty years, like 
good Isaac," she added smiling ; " yet Isaac did not 
marry another than his dear Rebecca ; he prayed 
and waited." 

"God had promised him the blessing through his 
seed,*' observed the young Circassian, with some 
shrewdness for one so little educated." 

" We have to wait without a distinct promise cer- 
tainly, for many things that we desire, just to wait 
God's will and give up our own," replied Irene ; " but 
it is God*s will that an enlightened man like the Bey 
should keep his word in a case like this especially. 
Pray, dear sister, pray and faint not!" She then 
knelt and offered up an earnest petition for both the 
husband and wife ; and then, when poor Ain el Hayat 
was a little calmed, she proposed to send the Greek 
to stay with her ' for a few days. " Her skill about 
sickness and your altered looks, which show you not 
to be well, afford a very good reason for her coming 
to wait on you, and bringing some of her sedative herb 
drinks," she said ; "and you may trust fiery if you want 
a message to me ; send it through her. Also, she is 
now a believer, and will be a comfort, I think." 

" I suppose I must not ask to see the Bey .?" 

" On no account," replied the young lady. " If you 
did so, as ladies do not here ask for gentlemen, Sitt 
Fatmeh would be suspicious of something, and would 
fancy I had engaged you to help me." 



THE MYSTERY. 177 



" Which would be the exact truth." 

" However we must do nothing to offend that can 
possibly be avoided. I am going to my brother's now, 
and then home to my farm in the cool of the evening. 
I shall send Eurydice early to-morrow ; she will be 
so delighted to be of any use to you, for she loves you 
dearly. Now, adieu, my dear sister ! " And with a 
kind embrace, she took her leave. 



N 



CHAPTER XV. 

THE KEY TO THE MYSTEHY. 

IRENE'S brother and his wife would not hear of 
her going back the next morning, but sent a swift 
messenger to convey her behest to Eurydice, who, 
going in the evening, arrived by moonlight at the 
farm, and was able to escort her back as soon as the 
day dawned, he having slept on the premises. An 
Egyptian country house is always provided with a few 
mats, &c., for chance visitors of a humble class, who 
can thus be accommodated in the " corn-room " or the 
" cotton-room," or any other of the little store places 
that chances to be vacant at the time. 

The donkey with the Greek " deaconess," as we may 
now call the ex-slave, duly appeared at Edmimd 
Hillyard's house as the family were leaving the break- 
fast table, and after being kindly greeted, rested, and 
refreshed, a carriage was called to take her to the 
Bey's hareem. Irene had merely told her the young 
lady was unwell and in trouble, but left the rest to be 
told by the person concerned, though indeed the 
chattering slaves would probably let out the cause of 
the distress pretty soon, as they pick up things very 
quickly. 



THE KEY TO THE MYSTERY. 179 

That evening a hot wind, not very common in Sep- 
tember, set in, and as it made the roads exceedingly 
disagreeable from dust, Esther Hillyard persuaded her 
sister to stay with them two or three days, by which 
time at farthest the sirocco wind would be probably 
over. It lasted longer than they expected, and was 
still blowing, though with abated violence, on the third 
day. 

All this time they had heard nothing of Ain el 
Hayat except an answer to a message of inquiry that 
she was rather better, but still poorly. The family 
were sitting after tea in the large airy hall, lighted by 
a lamp hung from the ceiling ; a table with candles 
was placed near one of the sofas (with which halls 
used as anterooms are generally provided), and the 
two ladies took out their work as soon as the children 
had been sent to bed. Mr. Hillyard was beginning to 
read a new pamphlet to them just received from Eng- 
land when there was a knock at the door, and unan- 
nounced the Bey entered and saluted them. Of course 
he was greeted cordially and begged to be seated. 
Evening visits are not rare among intimate acquaint- 
ances in Cairo, and the servant brought a glass of 
sherbet immediately. Zohrab sat silent till the man 
had left the room, and then at once entered on the 
object of his visit. 

"You have heard from my wife," he said, addressing 
Irene, "about this fancy of my mother's? Poor 
woman! she* has got it into her head, and she had 



l8o THE KEY TO THE MYSTERY. 

done me much harm, though she little thinks so. 
When those fools first spoke to her, as the custom is 
here, just to see if the idea of such a thing would be 
received or not, she ought to have at once told them 
of my resolution never to have two wives " (he turned 
red in spite of a dark complexion as he spoke, and an 
expression of disgust and annoyance came over his 
features). " It would all," he continued, " have stopped 
then — before they had taken it seriously, do you see ?" 

** I do indeed, and greatly regret it ; but, Zohrab 
Bey, you don't siwely mean to consent ? " said Irene 
in a voice he only could hear. 

" I } break my word to fur and to God ? Never, 
never, I declare to you," cried the Bey, speaking pur- 
posely so that all should hear him. " I declare to 
you, my friends, I was as angry as I was grieved 
that my poor mother, and my brother-in-law, too, 
should entertain such a notion ; but whatever it costs 
her, she must give it up. I have told her that if she 
names such a thing again to me I will take my wife and 
go to Cyprus, where my father had purchased a small 
estate. I think you did not know I had property 
there, Mr. Hillyard ?" 

** No," said Edmund ; " but I am glad to hear it, 
as if you want to go for a short time, it would be 
convenient." 

" I do not want to leave Cairo, on the contrary ; but 
it may be one day necessary; who can say ? At pre- 
sent I am so anxious about my wife, I can hardly 



THE KEY TO THE MYSTERY, i8l 

think of anything ; she is really ill to-day. I came 
partly to tell Sitt Irene how grateful I am to her for 
sending her soeur de charite, diaconesse, what is it 
you call Madame Eurydice now ? She is so clever 
about sick persons. I have left her now with Ain el 
Hayat, and she seems to soothe and quiet her more 
than any one else. But, poor child, she is very ner- 
vous and unhappy! I see my mother has been talking 
to her ; she seems not to believe me when I assure 
her this idea is perfectly ridiculous. Will you not go 
and see her to-morrow t " 

" Certainly," replied Irene ; " but you are yourself 
her best comforter under God." 

" Tell me, Sitt Irene, and you, Mrs. Hillyard," said 
the Bey, "did you perceive that I was dispirited as 
my mother declared every one said i Ah ! you smile ; 
you did see it. Well, my English friends, 7^7^ did not 
invent foolish reasons ; you guessed the cause, I am 
sure." 

** My brother, the women are sharper than we are ; 
I think Irene guessed, but, indeed, I did not, until 
she told me," said Edmund. 

" Told you what ? speak, and do not fear to say 
what you think," said he. 

" SAe thinks that you are beginning to see the king- 
dom of heaven and to wish to enter, and yet, feel the 
danger and trouble which might probably follow. 
And we all know one who is in hesitation about his 
views or his actions is usually restless and dissatisfied." 



l82 THE KEY TO THE MYSTERY. 

" You are right, Sitt Irene," turning to her ; " Mr. 
Hillyard has interpreted your guess well, and it is a 
true one. I know that Jesus Christ is the captain of 
our salvation and no other. I believed this from the 
time I was in England ; I went many times to the 
meetings for prayer, and to the church with your 
brother. I know the Bible is true ; there are things 
hard to understand in it, but yet much that is plain 
and especially this, as I said. I have no faith in the 
sheikhs or mollahs any more. But the danger is great 
if I avow openly that I am not a Moslem ; and, if I 
die, what is to become of my poor wife ? I tremble 
for her more than myself ; but, my dear friends, I will 
not deceive you, I am not willing to undergo the 
danger myself, and feel it. Were I a soldier, I think I 
could face the cannon and sword as bravely as an- 
other, and I have been in peril more than once, without 
shrinking like a woman; but to know that secret 
enemies are always watching to poison you, or to dread 
being given up to the Government and sent to the 
White Nile any day, I own it makes me. shudder." 

"We are flesh as well as spirit," said Edmund, 
"and the flesh must be appalled at the thought of 
such cruelty. God can give strength and courage 
even for these things, but also He can avert them if 
He sees fit ; and I think we are permitted to pray 
for safety, especially when the welfare, moral as well 
as actual, of another depends on our safety.*' 

" Have you let the father of the girl know that 



THE KEY TO THE MYSTERY. 183 

you cannot accept his offer ? " asked Irene, "or does 
he still think you agree ? " 

" I told him yesterday through my brother-in-law, 
who assures me he really applauds me and feels as I 
do ; but he says under any circumstances it is a very 
difficult affair to manage. He fears that Saleem and his 
brother the Pasha will be affronted seriously; nay, that 
he is so already. My brother-in-law informed him, with 
a mouthful of compliments, according to custom, and, 
I dare say, of excuses also," added the young Bey, 
looking very indignant at the idea. " He made no 
reply at first, I am told ; only bowed and saluted, and 
then said 'As they like ; my brother's daughter has no 
need to wait for a bridegroom ; it is just as they 
please.' But his manner was very sarcastic and un- 
pleasant, and I feel certain he is no longer friendly to 
me — probably will quarrel with my brother-in-law, 
who, poor man, has had nothing to do with the foolish 
matter." 

" Well, you know, where you have friends," said 
Edmund, " if you want anything I can possibly do 
for you, send me word any hour of the day or night, 
and you must look up, not down, my brother. Now 
we will read a chapter together, as our custom is, out 
of God's word ;" and he opened the Bible at the 
prophet Isaiah, and read the fifty-first. He read in 
English, as the Bey could now easily follow in that 
language, and was very fond of it ; but he provided 
him with an Arabic Bible to avoid the chance of 



1 84 1H£ KEY TO THE MYSTERY. 

misunderstanding, as the prophets are not so easy to 
foreigners as narratives. Zohrab then told his friends 
he must go, as he did not like to be late on his wife's 
account; he had to go next day to the estate he 
possessed in the upper province, having business with 
the steward, and expected to be about three or four 
days. 

" I ought, indeed, to have gone to-day," he said, 
" but I did not like leaving her unwell and sad." 

Irene promised to do all in her power to cheer her, 
and thought his absence not a bad thing just at this 
moment 

He left them ; and on his return home, found 
Ain el Hayat somewhat better, and her Greek friend 
(no more a slave, but a still more devoted attendant 
than when she had been so) watching tenderly over 
her, and trying to divert her mind by little anecdotes 
of the village people. 

" Now, Ain el Hayat, you are not to fret and make 
yourself ill, for I have to go to the land in the up|>er 
province to-morrow," said he, affectionately taking 
her hand, when Eurydice had left her for a moment 
to fetch some drink for her. 

" No, my love, I will not, since you tell me that 
you are not really going to do as your mother wishes,'* 
said she, hesitating and stammering. 

" Why did you ever believe her in such a matter? " 
he said, a little sternly, for he had several times told 
her that it was nonsense. 



THE KEY TO THE MYSTERY. 185 

" Because she said," whispered his wife, " that our 
Koran allows men to deceive a wife sometimes, and 
she insisted so much that you would do as other 
Moslems." 

"You know perfectly that I do not any longer 
believe the Koran. It heis good words in it, of course ; 
but there are great errors ; and these are things I do 
not agree to, and that contradict each other. I 
believe the Word of our God, and the Saviour of the 
Gospel is the only true Saviour. Did you not know 
this, dear one } 

" I knew it for myself/' she answered, with tearful 
eyes, yet beaming with joy ; " but I always feared to 
say plainly such things to you, lest you might be 
angry with me. Oh, I thank God, beloved, that we 
feel the same ! Never, never shall we be parted if our 
souls are together! I longed so to know if you 
believed in Him, the Lord, Zohrab ; but if you had 
not spoken first I do not think I could ever have told 
you that I trust only in Him now ; " and she hid her 
face on his shoulder, overcome with the change from 
sorrow to joy. 

Some minutes passed before either could speak, and 
then Zohrab knelt and uttered a very broken prayer ; 
for he was much unused to pray, except alone, and 
was, besides, much agitated. But a father can hear 
a child when not yet able to express fully its needs. 
And how much more does the All Merciful hear the 
cry of a young and feeble believer ? 



1 86 THE KEY TO THE MYSTERY, 

Zohrab remained silent for some time, seated on 
the divan, with his wife beside him. He stroked her 
hand tenderly now and then, but said not a word ; he 
was thinking of the danger, and whether it was best to 
warn her. But it seemed, when so utterly vague, 
useless to frighten her. Besides, he was really puzzled 
what to do ; he wanted time for thought and prayer. 
So he decided to say no more to Ain el Hayat at 
present, but on his return in a few days from the 
upper province, to see Mr. Hillyard again, and his 
sister and wife, and consult with them about the 
future. So he left the young wife to the care of the 
faithful Greek, who was waiting in the other room, 
having sent the slaves to sleep. 

" We can depend on youl' he said in a whisper. 

'* Take care of my wife while I am away, for the 
sake of Christ ! " 

Eurydice looked at him meaningly, though without 
moving a muscle. " And see, my sister ! " continued 
the Bey. " Do not let her eat anything from strange 
hands. Watch about the food just now. Dost thou 
understand ?•" 

** I do, my lord ; and the dear lady shall be as the 
apple of my eye till, by God's grace, you return in 
peace next week." 



CHAPTER XVI. 

THE ENEMY IN HIS DEN. 

NEAR the ancient and much venerated mosque 
of Sultan Hassan, where its exquisite domes 
and delicately carved minarets stand out against the 
bluc'Egyptian sky, is a somewhat narrow and mean- 
looking street, of which the buildings, irregular in 
form and size, are for the most part crumbling from 
age and neglect, or, we should perhaps rather say, 
were so, for not a few of the ruinous houses in Cairo, 
built too unsubstantially to bear the effects of time 
and want of attention, have fallen or been knocked 
down to make way for others, better built, or pretend- 
ing, at any rate, to be so. These are not the fine old 
solid stone houses which we find in the heart of the 
city, as good as new, and a great deal better indeed, 
their only disadvantage being their situation in nar- 
row, close streets, but far superior as well as more 
artistic than modem ones. We allude to an inferior 
sort of old house, composed partly of stone of a 
second rate quality, but chiefly of mud-brick, with 
wooden merhabeers, or small ornamented lattices 
projecting from the windows, and furnished with 



1 88 THE ENEMY IN HIS DEN 

stands for holding porous water-jars for drinking. 
The water is thus kept cool in the warmest weather 
by the constant evaporation, and yet the lattice is so 
constructed that the occupants of the room cannot 
be seen, the wood carving being so curious that the 
ladies can look through easily while quite invisible. 
Many of these are quite works of art, and look 
singular on houses of so mean an appearance, in 
other respects, as the one we are about to enter. It 
was the abode and property of Ahmed Mohammed, 
the man whose enmity to the Bey had, nearly two 
years before, caused his flight to Europe. How fcame 
a man who had power to injure so seriously a gentle- 
man of wealth, good station and high character, to be 
himself in so much humbler a position ? It came 
through some of those vicissitudes which occur in every 
country occasionally, but are more frequent in the 
East than anywhere else perhaps. The father of 
Ahmed had been a man of little education, little 
wealth, and indifferent character, but he was clever in 
a certain way, shrewd and keen as to business, a good 
observer of character in others, and with a great com- 
mand of voice and manner. He made himself first 
useful, then agreeable, and finally indispensable to a 
great man, who was very unscrupulous, but too lazy 
to exert himself incessantly to find fresh agents for 
all his " dirty work." Mohammed became his universal 
assistant, and rapidly grew rich, of course. His son 
was sent to the Native College for Military Students, 



THE ENEMY IN HIS DEN 189 

then the only high school under Government. He 
was not literary by taste, but worked well with an 
object ; and, urged by his father, made fair progress ; 
but his love of pleasure made it necessary for the old 
man to keep him up to the mark by alternate threats 
and coaxing. He came through his examinations 
tolerably, but was angry to find Zohrab, who was also 
a scholar and some years his junior, far above him. 
His enmity had already begun ; however, it slum- 
bered then, for he had other matters more important 
to occupy him. We need not follow the career of 
such a man : a bold villain who lives by adventures 
on land or by sea may furnish a certain degree of 
interest, though scarcely of pleasure, unless his vices 
are mixed with at least a few virtues or redeeming 
qualities; but an intriguing villain, who winds and 
turns like a serpent, in order to gain his own selfish 
ends, and undermines the good of others to fill his 
purse, or get a profitable situation, is not a character 
we like to trace minutely, and follow in detail. 

Suffice it to say, that Ahmed having inherited a 
considerable fortune from his father (how amassed, no 
one cared to inquire), and all his powers of self- 
advancement added to a better education, rose 
rapidly ; and by the time he was four-and-thirty 
years of age, was considered by some a very clever, 
and by others a very cunning man, and feared by 
those whom he was opposed to, as a dangerous 
enemy. He spent extravagantly, but kept the 



IQO THE ENEMY IN HIS DEN. 

coffers well filled by the numerous bribes he received, 
and was advancing in wealth and influence, though 
the latter was rather secret than avowed influence, 
when Zohrab again stood, as he thought, in his light 
He fancied (for it was not a true surmise) that the 
princess -^o had bestowed one of her adopted 
Circassian daughters on the young Bey, would have 
favoured him equally, or in his stead, perhaps, had 
not Zohrab been there. 

In sevtt-al smaller affairs, he seemed to be his rival 
to the jealous ^yts of the man, who from a boy, had 
envied the handsome comrade, who had always held 
aloof from him. He had supposed this to be from 
pride, as being of higher race, for Ahmed's mother 
was a low peasant woman ; and, little as birth is 
thought of in the East, where power and wealth 
alone hold sway in general, he thought the young 
Zohrab avoided him partly on that account ; it was, 
in reality, that his love of gambling, and low pleasures 
of various sorts, made the more respectable youths all 
look unfavourably on him ; but there were but few 
such at the time he was in the college, and he at- 
tributed everything to Zohrab's influence. Like a 
serpent in the wall, he was ready to sting when 
opportunity served, but kept out of sight mean- 
while. 

In the affair with the peasants, the Bey had got 
into trouble entirely through Ahmed's machinations 
and false statements ; and though he had a little 



THE ENEMY IN HIS DEN. 191 

comfort in knowing that the man he so basely tried 
to injure was made unhappy and put to great ex- 
pense by his long journey, still that was not the 
revenge he had sought, and did not satisfy him at 
all. It was not even a disgraceful banishment — a 
sojourn in Europe, which was, after all, a treat rather 
than punishment. To make matters worse, when 
Zohrab had been absent a few months, the minister, 
as we know, who had been Ahmed's chief friend, 
died ; and a man who disliked him came into office. 
He was left without the agency employment, which, by 
help of bribes and extortions, had proved so lucrative, 
and as he did not restrain his extravagant tastes, he soon 
became impoverished ; and, at last, had been obliged 
to part with his large and handsome villa on the 
Shoobra road, and sell most of his slaves, and retire 
to the dilapidated dwelling-house formerly occupied 
by his father and grandfather before him. Here he 
was sitting on the day following the evening of our 
last chapter. He was reclining on a shabby sofa, 
near the window in an upper room, clad in a loose 
native robe, much more at his ease in it than in the 
European suit of clothes which lay on a chair near 
him ready to be donned whenever he went out, 
this being a common summer custom in Cairo, 
when the officials of Government and most of the 
higher class of men have adopted the dress worn in 
Constantinople; it is the European slightly modified, and 
usually of the darkest colours : most unsuited to the 



192 THE ENEMY IN HIS DEN 

summer climate therefore. They usually lay it aside 
on entering the privacy of their homes, and unbend in 
the caftan and slippers. Ahmed was a man of middle 
size, with rather coarse features and sly-looking ^ye^, 
which seemed never to be gazing straight forward, but 
always peeping out of the comers. His complexion 
was, like that of most Egyptians whose origin is from 
the upper provinces, extremely dark, so much so that 
if much exposed to the sun, like his peasant relatives, it 
would, like theirs, be nearly the hue of light mahogany ; 
but a town life and habits gave a more sallow and less 
healthy tinge to the face. His figure was rather stout 
for his age, but not so as to make him clumsy or 
wanting in activity. 

Like most Eastern apartments in those days, when 
cheap French articles of adornment or furniture had 
not yet found their way to Egypt, there was very little 
in the room except the divan and praying-carpet, 
when in his former abode his rooms had been lavishly 
supplied with all that Persia and Damascus could 
furnish of rich carpets and brocaded divans and cur- 
tains, but a room with old and shabby things of this 
kind and without the books and writing-tables which 
we should expect in the place where an educated man 
spent his private hours, looks dull and comfortless. 
A pipe seemed Ahmed's only companion ; but he 
was evidently expecting some one, for he opened the 
lattice and looked out once or twice, then shut it, to 
exclude the glaring sun, and again crouched up in 



THE ENEMY IN HIS DEN 193 

his corner with a very uneasy expression on his 
countenance. All at once a clapping of hands was 
heard below, a voice answered from above, then a 
servant was heard opening the locked door, and at 
the same moment an Abyssinian slave entered the 
room, and said : 

" He is come, master. Shall I tell the boab to 
show him into the salamlik, or will your Honour s je 
him here ? ** 

"Here. Send him up, and then go to make 
sherbet and coffee. And it is near noon, Shellabeya! 
get some kabobs from the market, and prepare some- 
tliing that we may eat in an hour or two." 

The Abyssinian, who was a pretty woman, though 
her large black eyes had a curious look in them, half 
soft, half savage, only replied by a smile and a slight 
nod, and left the room. A minute later the expected 
guest entered, a man of about fifty years old, dressed 
like a scribe or secretary, with an inkhom in the 
striped silk girdle at his waist He had a spare figure 
and a lined forehead, which was narrow, the fullness 
over the eyebrows only, showing the observing 
faculties to be the principal ones in his head ; but he 
looked altogether a sharp fellow. He was evidently 
either an intimate friend or an agent of Ahmed, for 
they were on very familiar terms, though the latter 
was the superior. 

" Well, Ismael," said he, after the usual salutations 
were over, "have you anything to tell me.^ " 

o 



194 



THE ENEMY IN HIS DEN 



" Several things, Effendi. But first I have a bit of 
news which will make you laugh. Ha, ha! Yes, 
only think, Effendi, that Zohrab Bey has offended 
Saleem Mohammed Pasha by refusing to marry his 
daughter ! His mother, Sitt Fatmeh, had wished it, 
and when the dalala made her the offer, as those 
people do, you know, not directly, but in a way ; she 
caught at the idea, and was quite delighted. She 
wanted to secure so powerful a friend for her son, 
naturally, and expected to have no trouble with him, 
as it is said that he is displeased at having no heir. 
But she proved mistaken. Mashallah, the old lady 
was finely balked, and the young one also, for they 
do say (though, of course, it is a secret) that the 
Pasha's daughter was desirous of the match, having 
had a peep behind the lattice. You know Zohrab is 
very handsome." 

"Pshaw, what nonsense is this.^ Tell me facts, 
good Ismael ; never mind Zohrab's looks. He has 
declined the honour, it seems." 

" Yes, Effendi ; and the Pasha is annoyed. It was 
his brother's daughter, by the way, not his own (for 
she is married); but it is the same thing ; he is attached 
to his brother, and his niece has been brought up 
in his hareem. Saleem is furious, they say, and 
neither of them will move to defend Zohrab if he 
jA^7a/d get into any trouble. Who can tell.^ — some- 
thing might occur ; " and the expression of his &^t^ 
became malevolent to such a degree that one could 



THE ENEMY IN HIS DEN 195 

excuse the superstition for thinking they had the 
evil power in them. 

Ahmed was silent for a minute, and then said : 

'* Have I a good chance of obtaining that place 
which Zohrab holds, if he were out of the way? 
I don't want to run any risk, however small; one's 
own head, by the prophet, is more than twenty 
thousand purses ! Yet I am now with an empty 
house almost. I cannot think of any situation so 
good as his. He makes little out of it; nothing, I 
fancy, indeed, of any consequence. But he is so 
foolishly kind, and besides so well off, he need not 
take!^ (The situation he alluded to was some office 
under Government, not in itself so lucrative as many, 
but affording opportunities of taking bribes and 
gifts.) 

'* I had almost got the promise of it, when that 
brother-in-law asked the post for him ; it was just 
after his return from Europe. I wish the sea had 
drowned him on his way, by the beard of the prophet ! 
that man is always between me and the sunshine." 

"But you do not know," said his agent, **that 
Zohrab is going to-day to the upper province, where 
he has that estate beyond Minieh. I forget the name 
of the village ; he is going to make some arrangement 
with the steward about a new sugar-mill. He will go 
by the new railway as far as Minieh, and a horse will 
meet him there. I heard it through the boab at his 
house, who told a slave of mine whom I sent on a 



196 THE ENEMY IN HIS DEN, 

pretext ; they don't guess that I belong in any way 
to your interests, or their mouths would have been 
sealed up as tight as a money-bag." 

" Ah ! that is news, indeed ; and the distance from 
the railroad is, I know, very long, four hours' ride, I 
think, and a lonely country; no roads, all sugar 
canes." 

•* Nothing could be better ; but take care, my 
brother, do not raise your voice ; the very birds in 
the air must not know what we speak about." 

"It is not necessary to speak at all; you know 
what I mean, perfectly. I trust no one among the 
slaves, although that woman pretends to be attached 
to me ; but we need not even say any word that could 
injure us if it were called out in the market-place. 
See, Ismail, all that is wanted a couple, or, say three 
unscrupulous and poor fellows ; poor I say. Such as 
would kill their own mother for a mouthful of bread ; 
there is time enough. He is to be away three days, 
you say ; that will do." 

" Quite so. The canes are tall and make good 
shelter. Whatever the men find is part of their re- 
ward ; it will be imagined to be a robbery, and 
nothing will be known till a month has passed, and 
they begin cutting the canes. But it must be on his 
return, as I have to find the men." 

The two worthies had forgotten that these words, 
though not spoken very loud, were sufficiently intelli- 
gible, had any one been listening, to condemn them 



THE ENEMY IN HIS DEN, 197 

both. They drew closer, however, and ended their* 
conference in a whisper. As soon as from the neigh- 
bouring minaret the hour of noon wits announced by 
the Muezzin, they both moved back to their former 
places on the divan, and began to speak on indifferent 
matters, knowing that interruption was at hand. The 
slave presently appeared with coffee, and after a brief 
interval, brought in the slight mid-day meal she had 
prepared by her master's orders. Some further busi- 
ness was arranged after dinner, in which the chink of 
money might have been heard had an observer been 
near; but the miscreant locked the door before he 
opened his purse, and did everything to avoid detec- 
tion. But though he often called on the Holy Name. 
he did not think that the All-seeing Eye was upon 
him; and that the voice he could not hear because 
his conscience was seared as with a hot iron, had 
said, " Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther." 



CHAPTER XVII. 

AMONG THE SUGAR-CANES. 

THE day was fair and bright when, having com- 
pleted his business in the upper province' 
Zohrab Bey mounted his fine Arabian horse, and 
with only his faithful Nubian as companion, left the 
Abbadeeh and set forth on his homeward journey. 
Though still full of anxiety as to his future plans, and 
troubled at times with doubts and fears, he felt much 
lighter since he had come to the explanation with his 
wife ; one burden, at least, seemed lifted off his heart, 
and he saw, on looking back, how much his trouble had 
been increased by bearing it alone. The conversa- 
tion and prayer with his English friends had not 
been without their effect also, and he was enabled to 
trust God and hope in Him much more than he had 
hitherto been doing. The ride in the fresh early 
morning invigorated mind and body alike, and the 
young man felt in happy spirits after he had gone an 
hour on his way, and smiled pleasantly at his young 
attendant, who made occasional remarks on what they 
passed. It was lonely enough : except for a few 
peasants at work in the maize and cane fields, hardly 



AMONG THE SUGAR-CANES, 199 

a creature was to be seen, until they came to a 
straggling village of mud-hovels, and then, indeed, life 
was teeming; the little dirty children, nearly and 
often quite naked, came running after the horseman 
to see the fine housings of his Turkish saddle and 
beg for backsheesh ; the women, with pitphers on 
their heads, paused in their way towards the water, to 
look at the handsome stranger, and such of the pea- 
sants as were not out in the fields at work looked up 
from the dust heap on which they were seated 
smoking their morning pipe, to give him a cheerful 
and civil salutation. They were not really lazy, 
though one might fancy so, seeing them sitting still 
at nine o'clock in the morning, but they had been all 
at work by daylight, and this was their hour for a 
little rest and a frugal breakfast, generally only a flap 
of coarse bread, perhaps a slice of water-melon, but 
oftener nothing but dry bread and cold water. 

After this village was passed (they stopped in it a 
quarter of an hour to let the horse rest a little, and 
the lad also, and to procure some fresh goat's milk for 
the refreshment of both master and servant) they pro- 
ceeded on their journey across country, and no other 
village was near for a considerable distance, perhaps 
a couple of miles, or even further still. The only 
human habitations were a few Bedouin tents near a 
small grove of palms, just discernible over the fields 
of sugar-canes, beside which, on the narrow path 
used by the peasants, they were now travelling at a 



200 AMONG THE SUGAR-CANES. 

slow pace, the boy following the horse, as there was 
not room for him beside it. Beyond the palm grove 
lay the wide expanse of yellow sand, marking where 
the desert began. The Bedouins had apparently 
camped just on the confines, where cultivation and the 
wilderness met, but at this time of day they would not 
most likely be in their tents, save the women and 
children. This was, therefore, the spot distant from 
the villages, and out of reach of interference from 
passers-by, that the enemies, or rather the hired 
assassins, had selected as the most suitable for their 
vile intention of waylaying and murdering the young 
Bey on his homeward journey. 

Unsuspecting and cheerful he rode along cautiously, 
lest his noble steed should slip his foot into one of the 
dangerous holes sometimes left by the inundation in 
the paths of dried mud between the fields ; but as 
little guessing that a worse danger was near as the 
animal himself could be. The dumb creature indeed 
was the first to discover mischief, with that fine sense 
of perception which belongs to the highest races of 
horses particularly, the Arab courser seemed aware 
of some strange influence near ; perhaps he heard the 
slight rustle among the cane leaves, though the 
assassins were creeping along at some distance among 
the plants, and so spftly that not only did not Zoh- 
rab, preoccupied in mind, perceive anything, but his 
Nubian boy, though possessing the quick observa- 
tion of most half-savage races, did not yet notice it 



AMONG THE SUGAR-CANES. 20I 

— 1 

Presently the horse pricked his ears again and gave 
a slight snort as of terror. Both master and servant 
then stopped for a second. 

" Do you see any one, Hamid ? " asked the Bey. 
"The horse is startled ; can it be a serpent in the path ?" 

** I will look, my lord,'* peering about with his 
keen black eyes, as he spoke. " No, I see nothing ; let 
me lead him a few minutes ;*' and suiting the action to 
the word, he took the bridle up to where two of the 
narrow little footpaths met. 

At that instant three men, all armed with guns, 
darted at the same time out of the canes, and while 
one knocked down the boy with the butt end of his 
weapon, the two others fired both at once on the Bey. 
He was struck on the left shoulder by the ball of one, 
but the other missed, because the horse reared, though 
they fired together as nearly as possible. They were 
not trained to arms like soldiers, and there was a 
second between the shots, and the first only took 
effect therefore, and that not mortally ; and before 
they could take aim for the second shot, wounded as 
he was, the Bey had had time — for he had presence 
of mind as well as courage — to draw the pistols from 
his holster and fire. One of his assailants was shot 
through the head, and fell dead at once. The 
third ruffian had meanwhile been grappled by Hamid, 
who, though but a lad, was brave, and having been 
thrown down without being much hurt, had clung 
round the legs of his foe, and succeeded in pulling 



202 AMONG THE SUGAR-CANES. 

him down. His gun went off in the struggle, but 
without effect, except to frighten the horse, who 
plunged and reared violently. The Bey, from whose 
shoulder the blood was now streaming, could not 
keep his seat under this motion, and sank backwards 
on the ground, rolled over the raised pathway into 
the little channel of water that ran alongside of it 
The horse was now frantic, and prevented the two 
assailants who were unwounded from reaching his 
master — quite unintentionally, of course, but effectu- 
ally — for two or three minutes, the path being 
very narrow and his kicks no trifle. One of 
the men was knocked down by his fore-feet, and 
received a severe blow on the head, falling against 
a large stone ; the other, however, succeeded in 
pushing his way on the other side through the 
canes, and was just loading his gun again to give the 
death-shot to the prostrate victim, in case the wound 
was not mortal (though he lay senseless and ap- 
peared dying), but before he could accomplish this, 
or his stunned comrade was revived enough to come 
to his help, there was a violent rushing sound in the 
canes, and a camel appeared floundering through 
them at a tremendous pace, followed by several 
men and boys. At this, the assassins saw their game 
was up. They thought the Bey was probably dead, 
or soon would be so, and they might claim the reward; 
but they risked discovery too much if they lingered to 
make it sure. The horse, at sight of the camel, had 



AMONG THE SUGAR-CANES, 203 

given one more desperate plunge, and darted off at 
full speed (and an Arab horse's speed is little short of 
lightning) in the direction of the desert; the assassins 
dragged their comrade under a thorn bush which 
grew near an old Sacchia, apparently disused, hard 
by, and then took to their heels, snatching up, 
however, the Bey's pistols, both of which had fallen 
on the ground after he fired. The pursuers of the 
camel saw them running away, but could not extricate 
themselves from the sugar-canes until they had got to 
some distance, as they ran on the path. No one who 
has not tried to walk through a field of sugar-canes 
can tell how diflScult it is to get along, even at a slow 
pace ; as to running, it is not possible, unless one had 
the long legs and powerful body of the camel. They 
were Bedouins from the palm grove in the distance, 
and their camel had by chance broken its tether that 
morning and got loose ; the men had been seeking it 
for an hour, and at last had found it, devouring the 
sweet canes very leisurely in one of the fields. As soon 
as the creature heard their voices it started off again, 
quite aware that it was trespassing, and bounded 
along, crushing down the crops famously in its progress, 
till they reached the scene which we have been de- 
scribing, just in time to save Zohrab's life. The 
Bedouins came up to the spot, not knowing what had 
occurred, but seeing rather with glee than horror that 
somesortof a "row" had been goingon, and that perhaps 
a chance of picking up a little plunder might be at hand. 



204 AMONG THE SUGAR-CANES. 

But the young Nubian was up to the emergency; 
before they had got through the canes (and we must re- 
member that sugar-canes, when full grown, are higher 
than a man's head, besides being so thick in growth 
that it is almost like making a way through a labyrinth 
of knives with the blades in all directions, as they 
cut the face and hands, from the quantity of flint in 
the leaves), the Arabs were unable to see anything 
near at hand, though they heard the cries and plung- 
ing. He quickly dragged his master into the thickest 
of the brake on his side of the way, and crushed the 
canes down over him, so that without a close search 
he could not be found ; and then, by shouts and cries 
and gesticulations, he called the attention of the new- 
comers to the man who lay now really dead under the 
bushes at the Sacchia, and to the horse, which was 
only to be seen at a distance, apparently bound for the 
desert One ran off to catch him, as valuable booty, 
and another secured the camel. There were only two 
men, the rest of the party were boys of various ages, 
three big and two mere little children. These last 
scrambled like monkeys up the camel's back the 
instant it was caught, and settled themselves on 
the animal's hump, with the rude pack fixed by 
ropes making (for them) a very good saddle. The 
older man, who wore a ragged bumoose and a 
coloured handkerchief on his head, bound over an old 
tarboush of red felt, and had the black and rather 
scanty beard, keen eyts^ and sharp features often 



AMONG THE SUGAR-CANES. 205 

seen among his race, now turned to Hamid, who was 
trying to make him attend to the dead man. It 
appeared natural that the horse should belong to the 
victim, as he supposed, of a murder, for he could not 
at the distance tell that the horse was saddled as no 
peasant's steed ever was ; besides the man might have 
been a fellow-servant of Hamid's for aught he could 
tell, bringing home a master's steed, so he examined 
the supposed victim, not very closely, fearing to get 
into difiiculties if found near a body, as is the case in 
Egypt if any one who belonged to Government hap- 
pened to see or hear of it Seeing life was extinct, 
he began to question the lad, who, though weeping 
genuinely, and full of dismay lest his dear lord should 
expire for want of care, dreaded the wild sons of the de- 
sert too much in the caseof a well-clad man with money 
and jewels about him to reveal where he was hidden, 
and while answering (as he thought suited the occa- 
sion) he contrived to lead the man in the direction of 
the horse and away from Zohrab, and so naturally did 
he do this that the Sacchia lay between them and the 
scene of the attack before many minutes were passed. 
The Bedouin was thinking more of the horse than of 
a ragged dead man or a crying boy, and he soon 
marched off on the pathway as fast as he could, and 
gradually left his young companion behind — as he 
wished. The three boys had rushed after the first 
Bedouin, and were by this time out of sight. Had 
the two assassins been near enough they might now 



206 AMONG THE SUGAR-CANES. 

have returned, but they, seeing a man and three lads 
running on the narrow raised path behind them, never 
slackened speed till they reached another Sacchia 
more than half a mile off. Here the one who had 
fallen against the stone was seized with giddiness and 
fainted, from running in the hot sun after so hard a 
blow. The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel ; 
his comrade gave him some water (for this Sacchia 
was at work, and the water was pouring freely from the 
pitchers fastened to the huge water-wheel), then he 
told the peasant boy who was guiding the buffalo 
which turned the wheel, that the man had fallen and 
knocked his head, and would rest till he felt better ; 
he was in haste to go on, and could not delay. The 
boy was not pleased to have a sick man apparently 
left on his hands, but he was too young to have any- 
thing to say about it, so he went on crying heigh ! to 
the buffalo, and the ruffian, after a deep draught of 
water, went on his way, taking care to carry in his 
vest well concealed the two pistols of the Bey. The 
other gradually recovered, and in an hour's time fol- 
lowed slowly, and finally rejoined him at night in a 
village where they slept, and next day went back 
towards Cairo. 

Meanwhile the Nubian had hurried back to his 
master, and found him, though still unconscious, evi- 
dently alive ; he was unable of course to guess how 
severe or how slight might be the wound, but he 
judged it was not mortal ; the fall from the horse had 



AMONG THE SUGAR-CANES. 207: 

not, as far as he could tell, broken any bones, but 
the shock had been great, and the colourless lips and 
ashy face terrified the poor affectionate boy. He did 
the little he could, first soaking his master's hand- 
kerchief in the water of the little channel which for- 
tunately was flowing (the fields are watered in 
turn, and some days the little irrigation canals will 
be found quite dry therefore). He laid this on the fore- 
head, and then very gently and carefully raised the 
body slightly by pushing clods of earth under, as 
a lever, till he could ascertain if the blood was still 
flowing ; as he lay on his back, he could only know 
this by raising him a little. As far as he could see, 
the flow was somewhat less, but the blood was still 
oozing. He therefore tore up a part of his own shirt, 
and with that and his own turban unrolled, made a 
thick bandage, which he fastened with considerable 
handiness, considering he had not been trained in 
such matters. He then dipped his fingers in the water, 
and drop by drop made a little fall on the closed lips. 
At last they parted, and a deep breath showed there 
was something like reviving. Some wild plants, that 
grew near had he knew a strong aromatic odour, and 
gathering a handful he bruised them and held to his 
master to smell, and soon saw him open his eyes, then 
he groaned faintly, as with pain, and closed them 
again. 

Hamid could but rejoice to see him at any rate 
living, though he knew not what to do. He tried in 



208 AMONG THE SUGAR-CANES, 

a low voice (lest any one should be near) to cheer and 
comfort him, declaring he would soon be better and 
Mashallah! the wound would be nothing by the 
blessing of God and the prophet. 

** If my horse were here/* at last the Bey murmured 
feebly. 

Hamid had little hope that the animal could escape 
the Bedouins, but such was the animal's intelligence 
and affection that he thought he would return to the 
place unless caught He sat by the Bey, giving him 
water in his brass travelling-cup, which he had suc- 
ceeded in getting out of his pocket, and renewed the 
water on the head ; this was all that he could do at 
present 

** If a woman comes this way we shall have help, 
for they have hearts and will have pity," said he. 

" God will help," murmured his master faintly. 

" Truly, my lord ; one who like you fears God will 
not be abandoned," sobbed the lad, kissing his hands. 
He raised his master's head so as to lay it upon his 
knee, and thus supported him in some degree. 
'* Allah kereem ! " he repeated from time to time, till 
at last to his great joy he discerned two women with 
pitchers coming along the path at no great distance. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

AMONG THE BEDOUIN TENTS. 

HAMID soon perceived that the women were 
Bedouins, from their dress. They wore the 
crimson triangular face-veil, with little silver coins 
sewed all round the edges, which marks the women of 
this race. It is sometimes white, and not red ; but 
the shape is the same, and the coins invariable, 
though their value and number differ, of course. The 
hair, instead of hanging down the back inside the 
outer head-veil, or mantle, as with Egyptian women, • 
is fastened in thick plaits round the forehead, just 
above the eyebrows ; unless, as is the case with 
some, the hair in front is cut short like the present 
fashion for young ladies. Their garments of limp, 
dark blue linen or cotton, resembled those of ordinary 
peasants, and it is scarcely needful to observe that 
their language was that of Egypt. Some words and 
expressions, however, which are peculiar to Bedouins, 
always show at once the true descendants of that 
pomade Asiatic race, which has given its language 
to the whole of Northern Africa. 
As soon as they approached within hearing distance, 
P 



2IO AMONG THE BEDOUIN TENTS, 

Hamid called to them, and both stood still, amazed ; 
but there was nothing in the Nubian lad to alarm 
them, and they waited till he ran up and began 
volubly to explain what the case was : 

" Oh, my sisters !*' he exclaimed, "by the prophet, 
and by the heads of your fathers, have pity on a 
noble lord who is here in suffering and wounded. 
Ye are mothers ! that God may preserve your little 
ones, have mercy, and come quickly to help my 
master!*' 

" Who is thy master, my son ?" asked the older of 
the two, her small but brilliant eyes full of curiosity ; 
not, however, un mingled with compassion and interest, 
as they peered over the face-veil, which concealed all 
the rest of her countenance. 

" He is a Bey!" replied the lad,who had an instinctive 
idea that it might be as well not to give his lord's name 
to strangers under the circumstances, "and he is 
good, like an angel of heaven, and handsome ! Look 
how ill he is ! will you let him perish for want of 
help ? *' 

" Nay, by thy father's life, my son, we are not so 
cruel. The children of the Arab have hearts. 
Mashallah, but he is a beautiful young man ! How is 
he hurt?*' 

" We were travelling from my lord's Abbadech, and 
robbers set upon us — he is brave as Antar, and slew 
one, and the other two fled ; but he is wounded in 
his left shoulder," replied Hamid, who justly thought 



AMONG THE BEDOUIN TENTS. 211 

the truth was the best thing to be spoken. I fear had 
he conceived a lie to be more likely to excite com- 
passion and gain the aid he needed, he would not 
have scrupled to tell it, but he really preferred telling 
the truth if it did as well, if only that his master 
always scolded him if he ever detected him in a fib. 

The younger woman, who was daughter-in-law to 
the older, now aided her mother to raise him gently, 
and they examined the wound as far as without 
undoing the bandage was possible. 

" For the moment we must let the blood dry on it 
or he will bleed to death," said the older woman, who 
had some experience among her guerilla-like people, 
of shots and cuts. " If the ball be in we must try to get 
it out when he is at our tents ; but you, daughter, 
must go and bring your brother and the camel, he 
cannot walk." 

"God bless and reward you, my sisters !your hearts 
are white,'* said Hamid, "and my lord will be grateful 
to you for your kindness ; he has in Cairo wealth 
enough, and will buy you a dozen camels on our 
return by God's mercy !" 

He was anxious by these words to keep them from 
being tempted by the occasion into searching his 
master's pockets ; but when put on their honour the 
usually-plundering Bedouins are strangely trust- 
worthy. 

Hamid had formerly been with some desert Arabs, 
and happened to know the form of words that ex- 



212 AMONG THE BEDOUIN TENTS. 

presses their most solemn oath, and determined to get 
it from the chief of the Arabs. For security, how- 
ever, he had taken his master's purse and put all the 
gold into a bit of rag, which he tied carefully like a 
charm round his own waist inside his garments, and 
then had returned the purse with the silver in it to its 
place. The watch and ring he did not like to meddle 
with, lest he might himself appear a thief if they were 
found on him, or if his master suddenly missed 
them. 

Before the woman came back with the camel, one 
of the Bedouins appeared not far off, pursuing the 
horse, which apparently was endeavouring to retrace 
his way to his master. He was, however, weary ; 
and the man had very nearly run him down, having 
been with the boys round and round in a wide circle ; 
but Hamid darted forward and called aloud ; the 
faithful animal, at the well-known voice, made a fresh 
effort, and with a few bounds stood panting beside him. 
The woman hurried forward now and told her husband, 
for such he was, what she had learned from the boy, 
and declared that they must not take a hair of the 
mane of a horse belonging to one who was thrown 
thus on their hospitality, and whose servant had ap- 
pealed to them in the name of God ! 

Hamid added his word, but the strongest apjjeal 
was from the Bey himself, who, with a great effort 
raised his voice enough to say, ** I come in God's 
name, and ask to be your guest, brother." 



AMONG THE BEDOUIN TENTS, 21 3 

The Bedouin went up to him directly, took his 
hand, and swore to protect and help him. The woman 
nodded, and probably smiled, if her mouth had been 
visible — knowing he was now as safe as if he had 
eaten bread and salt in the tent, and helped her 
husband to place the sufferer on his horse before his 
servant, who supported him in his arms while the man 
led the steed gently in the direction of the palms. 
The black goats'-hair tents were pitched among these 
on the very edge of the desert, and into one of these 
Zohrab was carried by the Bedouin and Hamid, for he 
was quite unable to walk. They laid him on a mat, and 
put a roll of something under his head, and the old 
woman steeped dates bruised and chopped in some 
water, and made him drink the liquid, for fever was 
setting in, and he was thirsty. When evening came the 
rest of the tribe returned, about twenty-five or thirty 
men, heads of families, besides a few youths and the 
wives and children of the party, with flocks of goats, a 
few sheep, and several camels and donkeys. The 
sheikh had a horse, or rather a mare, with her foal, of 
a wiry desert breed, not the beautiful Arab of the 
Nejeed, for which Arabia has so long been famed, 
but an active and fleet animal, very useful on the sand, 
and hardy as can be. The sheikh had also the dis- 
tinction of a silk kuffeeh on his head (Bedouins do not 
wear turbans, but a kerchief, or shawl of silk or cotton 
flung loosely on the head over the felt cap, and fixed 
by a rope of camers-hair). He had silver-mounted 



214 AMONG THE BEDOUIN TENTS. 

pistols, a couple of rifles, and two wives, each of whom 
had a division of the tent for herself and her children. 
The rest had cotton kuffeehs, or very old silk ones 
nearly in rags, one gun and one wife only, being too 
poor for more. 

The Nubian was kindly treated and given plenty 
of bread, dates, and new milk, and when he was 
refreshed they all tried to make him tell all about his 
master, the journey, and the assassination attempted 
upon him. 

Hamid was very willing to give details on the latter 
affair, but he would not tell his master's name. " He 
can tell you if he likes, when he is well ; he is the 
Bey, that is enough," he said. He watched by the 
mat where his lord lay till sleep at last overcame 
the poor youthful eyes, weary with excitement and 
fatigue, and he slept till the sun was high. 

The old woman then told him she had come to sit 
by his master as soon as she saw him asleep, and that 
the fever had caused him to wander a great deal in 
the night, adding, " We ought to try and get out the 
ball, or he will die." 

Hamid wept bitterly for a time, then he roused 
himself, and asked " if he should go to fetch a 
doctor?" 

" He will die before you can return ; there is none 
to be found anywhere near ; but do not be uneasy, my 
son, the sheikh is clever ; my husband has already 
spoken to him, and he will get out the ball. I am 



AMONG THE BEDOUIN TENTS. 211)' 

going to prepare some herbs to lay on the place after, 
by God and the prophet's blessing, it is taken out." 

Hamid was in great misery, for he feared their 
hurting him dreadfully, and, perhaps, making him 
worse ; but he could not bear to leave him in strange 
hands, and it would, certainly, take two days, at least, 
to go and return with a surgeon. 

Zohrab was half unconscious, but made no resist- 
ance to their doing as they would. In fact, his nurse 
had given him opium purposely, that he might remain 
drowsy ; she had a small quantity kept for such occa- 
sions. The sheikh was not a delicate surgeon, though 
naturally handy, as are so many Arabs ; but he did 
his best, and after much torture, poor Zohrab was 
shown the ball extracted from his wound, after he 
recovered from a long fainting fit They bound the 
place with the old woman's herbs, and made him 
swallow a preparation of dates and milk to prevent 
exhaustion, and then let him rest, while the Nubian 
rubbed his feet gently to promote sleep. 

There was no fear now on either his part or 
Hamid's of treachery or robbery on the part of the 
Bedouins ; their sheikh was pledged by the law of 
hospitality, and the women were already bound to the 
stranger by pity and kindness. Their tents were rude 
indeed, for the noble stranger, used to marble halls ; 
but they were opened with desert hospitality and 
kindness, and the sufferer, as far as he was able, 
acknowledged the kindness with gratitude. 



2l6 AMONG THE BEDOUIN TENTS, 

Whether the rough doctoring or the hurt itself, or 
the fall, were the cause, or all three, so it happened 
that Zohrab had a sharp attack of fever the next 
night and was delirious, though too feeble from loss of 
blood to be violent His servant soon learned from 
words dropped in his fever, that his master dreaded 
the same enemy he had feared formerly, who was 
pretty well known to all his domestics, but was sup- 
posed now to be out of the way, as no one had lately 
heard his name. That he was the cause of the late 
attack, his master evidently fancied, and Hamid felt 
certain rightly — the more he thought of it the more 
sure he felt ; the knowing of his journey ; the attack 
in broad daylight ; the details of the affair altogether 
assured him it was not a common robbery. Zohrab 
seemed possessed with the idea that he ought to hide, 
or be hidden, till he could travel again, and the boy 
thought, perhaps, he was afraid that the enemy was 
seeking him. It was merely, however, the effect of 
excitement acting on a fevered frame in reality, but it 
made Hamid anxious, instead of going back to the 
Abbadech, which was only two or three hours* dis- 
tance, for help (as would have been natural) to get his 
master's presence concealed from the peasants of the 
district. The tribe he found were going that morning 
(the second after the attack) to move across the desert 
to a distant spot among the rocks and sandhills, 
where was a well of drinkable water, and thorny- 
shrubs for the camels. They were to stay a short time 



AMONG THE BEDOUIN TENTS, 217 

there for some purpose of their own, gazelle shooting, 
or some other reason. Hamid did not care much 
what it was, but they intended, he ascertained, to 
cross by short journeys, at intervals of a few days, a 
tract of desert land, and get to the river again lower 
down. The Nile winds so much, that people may, by 
land, cut across the desert and take it up again at 
another bend. This seemed to Hamid the safest 
thing, if his master could possibly travel, as he 
evidently feared some plot, and the boy thought, who 
could be sure the steward was not in it himself? He 
resolved to ask him, and although poor Zohrab was 
only half himself, he did so. 

** Oh ! yes, Hamid," replied the patient ; " let us 
go on by all means. They will not find us in the 
desert. Yes, I can go ; I can ride.*' And he tried to 
raise himself, and, of course, sank back with a groan 
of pain on his hard couch. 

Neither his kind Bedouin nurses nor the boy were 
aware how little he was capable of judging of his own 
state, and they agreed that he should be placed in a 
sort of litter, rudely constructed of tent poles and 
goats'-hair curtains, and slung between two camels, 
while Hamid should ride his horse. 

The sheikh was the more willing to arrange this 
plan that he wanted to move on, and could ill afford 
to leave men enough to protect his guest behind. 
All was, therefore, settled, and they started next 
morning. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

THE HAKEEM. 

AS might have been anticipated, however, the 
journey proved very trying ; the cameFs pace, 
not at all disagreable to a person in full health, is too 
jolting to be endured by an invalid easily, and when 
they halted at night Zohrab was very ill. They did 
their utmost for him and made him a soft couch by 
laying sheep-skins one over the other, and fed him 
with fresh milk, which was the only nourishment he 
could take. By morning he appeared a little better, 
and, though very suffering, was quite conscious. All 
day he lay in the tent without moving, but towards 
evening the strengthening desert air seemed to re- 
vive him, and he fell asleep more calmly. Hamid sat 
watching at the opening of the black curtain ; the 
Bedouins were kindling a fire at a little distance, of 
brushwood, brought by the children ; the women were 
kneading unleavened cakes on sheep or goat skins 
laid with the hair or wool on the sand and the smooth 
side up, a rude and not very clean kneading board 
truly, but the sons of Ishmael are not choice in such 
matters. One of the girls brought some eggs and put 



THE HAKEEM. 219 



in a circle round the fire, sticking them in the sand to 
cook thus; and another brought dates and wooden 
bowls full of the evening's milk. While the supper 
was thus in active preparation, and the setting sun 
was just sinking behind the horizon, and the pink and 
amber and pale opal, the matchless hues of the desert 
sunset, were spreading over the sky, figures were 
discerned coming over the nearest sandhill, which 
had hidden them till that moment from view ; a man 
riding on a carnel and followed by two or three 
Bedouins on foot. A few minutes sufficed to show 
that it was a man wrapped in a white Arab bumoose, 
but otherwise dressed as a European ; the terror of 
poor Hamid was extreme, but before he could warn 
his friends not to betray the presence of his master 
in the tent to strangers, one of the Bedouins following 
the camel ran swiftly forward and exchanged a few 
words with the sheikh, and was then warmly greeted 
by all the party round the fire. It was clear from the 
reception that he and his comrades were friends, in 
fact it soon came out that they were of the same 
tribe. There were embracings, salutations, congratu- 
lations in succession, and laughs of pleasure and white 
teeth displayed on many a dark face, with cries of 
" Ya Hossein ! ya Mahmoud, ya Masoud, ya Alee ! " 
&c. One of the older women fell on the neck of 
the youngest of the three new-comers and greeted him 
loudly as her son. Meantime the older one had 
formally presented the camel-rider as an English lord 



220 THE HAKEEM. 



of high degree, whom he and his comrades were es- 
corting from an oasis in the desert much farther up, 
which he had wished to visit; he had had a companion, 
another gentleman, but the other got tired of the 
camel riding very soon, and had turned back with the 
dragoman, and this one could speak Arabic well, 
and had come on with them, and was on his way 
back to Cairo. They had promised to take him to 
visit the tents of their tribe, if he was willing, as 
they expected to meet them on their road towards the 
river. 

" He is an Englishman, but like one of us, he knows 
our ways and speaks our tongue," added the infor- 
mant to Hamid, as the stranger, throwing back his 
bumoose, saluted the sheikh with all due form in the 
right manner, and then stooping down took from the 
heap of bread cakes which were in a basket ready for 
supper, a small piece which he dipped in the salt that 
was placed in a little heap on a skin ready for the 
eggs, and first saying, "In the name of God," he gravely 
ate it, bowing with a courteous glance round the 
circle. The sheikh held out his brawny hand to him 
with a smile and the others applauded, saying, " Ma- 
shallah ! that is a man indeed ; he is our brother, wel- 
come, welcome a thousand times." He was now 
pressed to share the evening meal, and did so cheer- 
fully, for he was very hungry after the long ride. He 
was a man not yet of middle age, perhaps three or 
four and thirty, at most, but had a serious and digni- 



THE HAKEEM, 221 



fied expression, increased by the beard he wore and 
the ample kuffeeh adopted for the journey instead of 
a " Frank hat." He told his Arab host that he was 
named Freeman, and had been acquainted with Syria 
in his early youth, his father having been once a 
merchant in Aleppo, and then in Damascus ; which 
accounted for his knowledge of Arabic. He had not 
been in the East for several years, however, being 
settled in England, but had been advised, after an 
illness, to spend some time in this part of the world, 
and having long wished to see Egypt, he had come 
earlier than travellers usually do, in the middle of 
September, and had now (the end of the month) been 
visiting the oasis, and was on his return, as before said. 
While they sat eating near the tent door, the sheikh 
said to the guest, " Are you a doctor, sir ? " 

*' Not by my business,*' replied the Englishman, 
who was well aware that the Bedouins have often 
the idea that all Englishmen, or indeed Franks of 
a grave and respectable appearance, are doctors, 
probably because travellers generally give some- 
thing from their medicine chest to any one who is 
ailing or pretends he is, for Bedouins are fond of 
getting medicine, not that they actually enjoy the 
bad taste, but the having a thing they know to be 
of some value for nothing has a charm. 

" Are you Hakeem } " (literally meaning wise 
person, but the name usually given medical men) 
is constantly asked of strangers, who soon learn 



222 THE HAKEEM. 



the meaning of the word, when put in the interro- 
gative, and seeing their tent beset by men with 
various infirmities, to whom a dose is a boon, and 
the more unpleasant the better, as being more 
costly in their idea probably. 

Mr. Freeman smiled when the question was put 
to him, for he was prepared for it He replied that 
he was able to do a little Hakeem's work, though 
his special occupation was rather with men's souls 
than their bodies. 

"Indeed! how can that be?" said the sheikh, 
"our souls are in the keeping of the powerful. 
God is great, and the prophet," &c. 

He had now got into a string of Moslem ejacu- 
latory prayers, and went on muttering to himself 
for a minute or two, during which his guest finished 
his bowl of milk. He then resumed, and explained 
in a simple way the duties of his calling, so far as 
they could be understood by half-savage men. 

" We have a sick man here," observed the sheikh 
stroking his beard, while the woman took away the 
remains of the meal from the skin which had served 
at once as table-cloth and table. "A man of 
position from the city; he needs help, for he has 
been wounded severely, and though we managed 
to «tract the ball, he suffers much still." 
a roKK ^^l ^^^"^ ^^^"^ wounded by a shot .> Was it 
several voices at once began to relate all they knew 



THE HAKEEM. 22$ 



of the story, adding so many conjectures of their 
own, that the thread of truth bade fair to be 
twisted up with additions till it became a thick rope 
The stranger picked out the chief parts, however. 

**What most concerns us," said he, "is that the. 
poor man has passed through fearful danger, and is 
still in a helpless and suffering condition ; he is 
therefore our brother. You have set me a good 
example by doing what you could for him, and I 
will now do whatever may be in my power ; I have 
but few medicines, but those I have are such as 
are likely to be useful in cases of accident or of 
sudden fevers. Will you allow me to see him at 
once, therefore?" 

"In the name of God, worthy stranger! Here, 
Abdallah (to his son, a stripling of fifteen, clad in 
a single garment, of which the most that could be 
said was that it was better than nothing), take 
the Hakeem to the Bey's tent, if indeed he be not 
asleep still.'* 

Hamid, who had been anxiously expecting help 
as spon as he saw the English gentleman, was at 
the entrance, and reported his master to have 
awaked just now. " I told him," said he, " that there 
was a Frank stranger here, for he heard the noise 
and confusion, and was much alarmed at first, 
thinking he was tracked." 

Mr. Freeman raised his eyebrows a little at this 
last remark. Could the Bey, as they called him. 



224 ^^^ HAKEEM. 



be a man flying from justice ? However, he would 
not hesitate to assist him if he were, and he stooped 
to enter the primitive chamber, formed by the black 
goats'-hair curtains hung to stakes fixed in the sand. 
Here, on the heap of skins and mats the woman 
had arranged for him, lay Zohrab, pale and feeble, 
but now perfectly conscious. He brightened on 
seeing the Englishman, though the fluent colloquial 
Arabic in which he addressed him evidently sur- 
prised him. He replied to the kindly greetings and 
questions as to his health, and then said he would 
relate the cause of his accident if he wished. 

*'I am better this evening," he said, "and can 
speak." 

** Pardon me, but I must assume the character 
of doctor, for want of a better. I perceive you are 
much too weak to talk. Allow me to do all I 
can for you, and then if your servant," glancing 
to the door where Hamid was admitting the sheikh, 
" is able to give me a faithful account of it, I shall 
be delighted to hear of your adventure ; the Bedouins 
gave so many versions, I can hardly comprehend 
the matter, but I can wait till, please God, you are 
better." 

**My boy is honest, and can relate it just as it 
was," replied the invalid, holding out his hand for 
his new friend to feel his pulse. 

The sheikh now came up, and as many of the 
older men as the tent could hold crammed in to 



THE HAKEEM. 



225 



be present at the medical examination ! It made 
the tent very close and hot, but Mr. Freeman 
knew it would not do to make the least objection; 
so he proceeded to examine the sufferer and ad- 
minister what he thought best, maintaining as 
quiet a demeanour as possible, not to alarm him. 
When he had finished he went out, advising the 
group to follow him, and seating himself on his 
little carpet bag in the moonlight, with the sheikh 
beside him, squatted in the peculiar way that all 
who know desert Arabs are familiar with, and the 
rest of the men in a half circle round them, he 
answered the questions put by them as to the 
patient. He thought him in a very feeble state, 
but did not at all despair of his recovery if he 
were careful, and especially did not fret himself, 
but he was evidently uneasy in mind. 

" But," continued Mr. Freeman, who did not want 
any more of their conjectures, " I wish the sheikh 
(turning towards him as he spoke) would order 
him some broth made as strong as they can ; nothing 
would be better for him, if made without too 
much water. Milk is good also ; but he needs both." 

He knew that the tribe was a poor one by their 
tents and equipment, but was too well up in the ways 
of the country, and especially of Bedouins, to allude 
to the fact that the Bey was certain to reward them 
handsomely. Doubtless they knew it ; but to do them 
justice, they would not have grudged a sick stranger 

Q 



226 THE HAKEEM. 



whatever he needed, without payment or reward, were 
he unable to give any. 

"God will punish those who shot the handsome, 
good young man," observed the old woman, who had 
been his first nurse, and had remained his daily 
attendant with Hamid, and had seen something of 
his disposition, therefore. " He is gentle and kind, 
and his servant tells me all his slaves and servants 
* love him greatly ; and he has a beautiful wife, 
they say, who will die or become mad if he does not 
recover! God is great. May the blessing rest on 
the Hakeem, and may the enemies of the fair-eyed 
young man be consumed like fat in the flames ! " 

Having delivered this oration, the dame summoned 
her eldest son, and with the permission of the sheikh, 
went with several others to select a young kid, to be 
at once killed and made into broth. Though it was 
late they had no notion of obeying a Hakeem by 
halves. He had said the Bey must have broth ; that 
he was very weak, and it was to be made strong and 
good ; the primitive idea, therefore, was that there 
was no time like now,, seeing the flock was at hand, 
and the moon bright. Many a doctor in civilised 
lands might in that respect have envied Mr. Freeman, 
for who could get a butcher's shop opened at night, 
still less a grazier applied to, for a lamb at mid- 
night ? The wild life, among many inconveniences, 
has no doubt some convenient things. In this case it 
was fortunate for Zohrab that a friend had come in 



THE HAKEEM. 227 



time to give both the medicine and soup ; for though 
he had had plenty of milk, the loss of blood had been 
so great that he needed more nourishment. How- 
ever, a greater relief than that to the body awaited 
him. While some of the party were lighting a fire 
and others smoking, Mr. Freeman heard the whole 
adventure of the cane-field from Hamid, who thought 
he might even go back to the conduct of the wicked 
Ahmed in old times, and his master's suspicion of his 
being the instigator of the attempt on his life, because 
Zohrab had told him, in a whisper, after the Arabs 
quitted the tent, to tell the Frank gentleman " his 
name and everything." The countenance and manner of 
the clergyman, as well as his nation and his profession 
combined, gave confidence in one who had resided 
among English Christians, and he wished him to 
know everything ; but the Bedouins were not to know 
his name. Mr. Freeman was intensely interested, 
and nothing but the feeling of duty as a doctor pro 
tern, could have kept him from going to the Bey at 
once, to assure him of his deep sympathy. He talked 
to the assembled circle for a little while, as they were 
too much interested in the progress of the broth 
which the women were cooking, and in roasting and 
eating some fragments of meat for themselves, to go 
to sleep just then. But being tired with a long ride, 
he was glad soon to retire to a corner of one of 
the tents : and, wrapped in his own blanket (which 
he preferred to the venerable sheep-skin covering 



228 THE HAKEEM, 



kindly offered him, for very sufficient reasons), he was 
soon enjoying the refreshing sleep given by desert air, 
pure and^ invigorating as it is. No one who has not 
proved it can imagine the effect of that dry, clear 
atmosphere, especially on the sleep. 



CHAPTER XX. 

THE BAPTISM BY NIGHT. 

THE sun was sending beams of golden light, 
which seemed to stream over the sandhills, as 
the stranger awoke. The sounds of busy life returning 
to the camp had roused him, and he hastened to the 
well of somewhat brackish water which supplied them 
with drink and washing, though the last the Bedouins 
do not consider a necessary of existence. The Eng- 
lishman, of course, made what toilet he could under 
difficulties, and then hastened to inquire after his 
patient, and found he had taken his broth at a very 
late hour, and soon afterwards slept, and was not yet 
awake. Mr. Freeman therefore took a delightful 
ramble among the sandhills and low rocks which 
cropped out here and there, a boy from the tents 
being his companion ; for it is very easy to lose one's 
way in the desert, owing to the inequalities of the 
ground and the absence of landmarks. A shrill call 
summoned them back when the flocks had been 
milked, and some of their desert bread prepared, on 
which the traveller made his breakfast with thankful- 
ness ; and then the Bey being awake went to him, 



230 THE BAPTISM BY NIGHT, 

and finding him a little easier, was able to talk to 
him, and even to ask a few questions, by which it 
came out that he had been in England 

** Do you understand English ? " he asked. 

The Bey replied in that language, though with some 
foreign accent He was quite fluent, having lived 
several months with Irene's family. 

" Let me talk English with you," he said, ** for I 
have things to say I do not want them to hear out- 
side, nor the boy within." 

When once they had got into the subject of Zoh- 
rab's difficulties it was very hard to stop, and his 
friend was only aware of the length of their conversa- 
tion when the pallid hue of the patient and the 
increased weakness in his voice warned him to insist 
on leaving him quiet. He had to administer a 
sedative draught before he could rest indeed, but after 
another long sleep he seemed again a little stronger, 
and sent Hamid for Mr. Freeman. 

" I want you," said he, to answer me a question. 
Do you not still think me in danger of dying from 
this wound ? " 

" No ; as far as I can judge, I think not," replied 
Mr. Freeman. ** I am not a surgeon, indeed, but 
have studied the subject, and even taken some lessons 
on surgery, as being useful in case of emergency to a 
clergyman. With proper care, I think your recovery, 
humanly speaking, certain ; and though you have not 
the degree of care I should desire, of course, yet, on 



THE BAPTISM BY NIGHT 231 

the other hand, the air of the desert is peculiarly 
strengthening; and at this season, when the great 
heats are over, the danger of inflammation is less, and 
your constitution appears to me good. Still, I allow 
that any accident or unforeseen fatigue might throw 
you back fatally." 

" Or my enemies find me out and finish me,*' ob- 
served the Bey. " My dear friend, you have been so 
kind, and I feel so sure you are a true Christian — one 
I can rest upon for help and advice — will you refuse 
to baptise me privately ? " 

Mr. Freeman started, for he was hardly prepared 
for this request After a pause he said : 

"ZohrabBey, do you consider, if you had been 
slain last week, that your soul would have been lost 
because you were unbaptised ? /do not say yes o^ 
no ; observe, I want your unbiassed opinion." 

" I have no opinion, dear sir ; I am still too ignorant 
to have opinions in these things, but I am quite sure 
God would have received me for Jesus Christ's sake, 
because I believe in Him. But if I live, whether for 
a week or for a long life, I know I ought to give 
myself by this sign to Christ, because He ordered 
His disciples about it ; if it were impossible He would 
not punish me for impossibilities. But your coming 
here so unexpectedly, as if sent by God, shows me 
that it is possible, and therefore, my duty, if you 
agree." 

"It is usual," said Mr. Freeman, after a minute's 



232 



THE BAPTISM BY NIGHT 



thought, "to make baptism 2^ public profession of the 
person's belief in Christ, or (in the case of young 
children) of the profession of their parents. And the 
prayers of the people are expected as well as those 
of the minister. At the same time there are excep- 
tional cases." 

" I think mine is one, dear sir/* said the Bey, ear- 
nestly. " If I go home (supposing me to live), and 
then repair at once to the mosque, and proclaim my 
changed religion, they stone me directly, the mob I 
mean. If I go to my family and announce it to all 
my relatives and friends, some one among them or 
their servants will inform the Government, and I am 
then thrown into prison or else privately poisoned, or 
first imprisoned and then sent to the White Nile. 
My poor wife, young and delicate, is then left to 
die; and, perhaps, has not strength to avow her 
faith, though she believes as I do. Would it, sir, be 
wrong to remain with my views undeclared for a 
time?" 

" Not if you are not forced to do or say anything 
actually opposed to Christian faith, I think,** replied 
Mr. Freeman. 

" I am not obliged to go to a mosque, or even to 
keep fast, or to make any declaration of belief in the 
Prophet. It is partly as a political matter, partly to 
gratify the bigotry of the fanatics, who are pretty 
numerous, that such severe measures are always (or 
have been hitherto always) taken with avowed con- 



THE BAPTISM BY NIGHT 233 

verts. But if I am asked plainly the question, * Are 
you a Christian ? ' I will not sell my soul to Satan by 
telling so shameful a falsehood as to deny it. I only 
would desire, if it be not sinful, to remain quiet for a 
time, if it may be so. Islam is yet so powerful that 
those who really feel the system to be as a tree 
whose heart is rotten, dare not speak ! There is no 
toleration, though I hope there will be one day. 
A man disappears, and when you ask, they say, * He 
is gone, who can tell where?* or he falls sick, and 
they say, * He dies of fever;' when it was really 
from poison, given, perhaps, by even a relative." 

" I know of such cases, for I know the East well,*' 
replied Mr. Freeman. " I will think of this, and 
come to you again." 

He left the neophyte then, but resolved not to 
delay his decision very long, for Zohrab's state would 
be much aggravated by anxiety of mind. So he went 
to a quiet spot among the rocks, and returned in an 
hour after prayer for guidance, and deep consideration 
of the case on all sides. Then returning to the 
invalid's tent, he found him, as he half expected, with 
a burning hand and flushed cheek, eagerly awaiting 
him. 

" My brother," said Mr. Freeman, " under your 
strange and trying circumstances, I think it is right 
for me to admit you privately into the outward and 
visible church of Christ ; that is, the faithful company 
of believers in his atonement and resurrection, you 



234 '^^^ BAPTISM BY NIGHT, 

being ready to promise that you will, as soon as pos- 
sible, avow your faith ; and, at all events, that you 
will never deny it" 

"I am willing, the Lord being my helper," was 
Zohrab's reply. 

" Then sleep now, if you can, and at night, when 
all is quiet, I shall administer the holy rite. I have 
told the sheikh I wish to ^leep in your tent, which on 
every account indeed is desirable, as I see you are 
somewhat too excited for one in your state." 

" Will you read before you go then ; it will calm me 
more than medicine ? " 

Mr. Freeman read in his own tongue a chapter of 
the Gospel, and then some of the strains of the sweet 
singer of Israel, and left him dropping into calm 
slumber. 

He took out his writing after supper. The Bedouins 
all being tired with their late hours the previous night, 
went to sleep, muffled in their mantles, outside the 
tents, or within, as suited them. It was a strange 
scene, and beautiful to look out upon ; the moonbeams 
resting on the broken ground and touching the rocks 
with amber light, pale, but not cold (like northern 
moonlight) ; the black tents standing out against the 
deep purple blue of the starry firmament ; the sleeping 
group near the embers of the watch-fire, their guns 
beside them, and the dogs and camels crouching near, 
and the wide expanse of desert dimly visible in the 
distance where the sand-hills did not intervene. 



THE BAPTISM BY NIGHT 235 

Robert Freeman gazed at it from the half-open 
curtain of the tent where he sat, with such fascina- 
tion that his writing was neglected. (He had a lamp 
in the tent of the patient of course.) At last he 
thought the outer air was getting too fresh for the 
Bey, and closed the curtain. Hamid was outside by 
his master's desire ; the tent being small, two persons 
to sleep in it were sufficient. At last the cock crew 
for the first time, and that being the hour at which 
sleep is usually heaviest with people in good health 
was he thought the least likely to be interrupted. He 
softly approached the lowly couch on which his friend 
lay ; he had scarcely courage to awake him, though 
his sleep was rather troubled, as if the mind were 
struggling against the flesh ; he turned slightly after 
a moment and murmured in his sleep. Mr. Freeman 
could just catch a few words — 

"Do not fear, my life ; they cannot hurt you ! O 
Lord, pardon thy servant ! I am sinful, but I believe. 
I will not be afraid for ten thousands of the people ! " 
(It was one of the Psalms he had heard just before 
dropping asleep). 

Mr. Freeman gently touched his arm ,- he awaked to 
full consciousness at once ; the sleep had been very 
light. He smiled and looked with a touching expres- 
sion of peace on his face at the minister, who held a 
cordial draught to his lips, after which he seemed 
much revived. 

" Shall I speak in English or in Arabic ? '* he asked. 



236 THE BAPTISM BY NIGHT. 

" English, I understand fully, and if Hamid awoke 
he would interrupt us." 

So Mr. Freeman asked him the few simple yet all- 
important questions. He could not reply in the 
words of a book, of course, but he gave the answers 
clearly and distinctly in his own words, and professed 
himself a believer in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, 
as well as in the Father and the Holy Spirit. Then 
Mr. Freeman repeated the words of baptism, and 
poured the water on his head, and prayed for him ; 
while Zohrab could not keep back his tears, for he 
was weak in body, and scarcely expected to live, but 
he smiled as, after all was over, his friend gave him 
the blessing and greeted him as a brother in the Lord. 
Then he would not let him try to speak more, and 
both lay down and soon fell asleep till morning. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

THE wife's journey. 

THE time at which the Bey was expected home 
had long passed. He spoke of a few days, and 
it was now more than a week, but though sorry, 
neither the wife nor mother were alarmed. People are 
not often strictly punctual in the East. Zohrab, trained 
in a military school, was more so than many young 
men of his standing, indeed. But when the persons 
one has to deal with do not keep to their time it is 
impossible to carry on business punctually or speedily, 
and every one knows that in Egypt to have to sit waiting 
for one's neighbours is part of the daily life ; to some 
a matter of perfect indifference, to others who know 
that life is short, and the night cometh when no man 
can work, it is a trial. Ain el Hayat had a source of 
double joy, spiritual and temporal, in the explanation 
given her by her husband, and therefore for some time 
felt too happy to be anxious, or even to be much 
chafed by the petty tyranny of her mother-in-law. It 
was a cause of indignation if she saw a smile on the 
face of the fair young Circassian. It seemed like a 
triumph over her plans. Time hangs rather heavy 
when one feels himself watched, so Ain el Hayat kept 
to her room and her books as much as possible. 



238 IHE WIFE'S JOURNEY. 

Eurydice spent this week with her, and the fruit of 
Irene's instructions was proved in her. She had at 
first taking up her abode with her new-found relative 
two years before, thought it out of the question that 
she should at nearly sixty learn to read ; but as her 
eyes were remarkably good, and her health strong, 
she was persuaded to try, and found she could learn 
very fairly. Irene taught her in Romaic, as she pre- 
ferred thus to revive the tongue nearly forgotten of 
her childhood, but she learned texts in Arabic by 
heart to repeat to the poor and teach to children, and 
she knew the meaning well. 

Instead of occasional visits, often at long intervals, 
as was the case with Ain el Hayat and her English 
friend, Eurydice had enjoyed the advantage of 
dwelling constantly with her, and no Christian, 
ignorant, but hungering for the word, can fail to profit 
by daily life with one who can say of it, " All the day 
long is my study in it ; the law of thy mouth is dearer to 
me than thousands of gold and silver." The old and 
the young woman spent hours therefore in reading 
and talking over the Scripture ; and when Irene came 
to visit the hareem, and to recall her deaconess because 
a case of illness in the country greatly needed her 
care, she found them thus engaged, and felt deeply 
moved at the contrast, when thinking of the similarity 
in some points of their lot : both white slaves origi- 
nally, both taken from their homes and without real 
friends for so long, one not even knowing flte name 



THE WIFE'S JOURNEY. 239 



given her in infancy, nor in what position were those 
who gave her birth, but both had now been enabled 

to say : 

** I have found a friend in Jesus ; 
Oh, how he loves I " 

Like many other of our hymns she possessed it in 
Arabic, and used to sing it with Eurydice, whose voice 
was a little cracked. and rough, but her ear was good, 
and she enjoyed taking a humble part in sacred song. 

The twelfth day at last arrived since the Bey's 
departure, and it began to be feared he had fallen ill, 
and the secretary, a very intelligent young Syrian, 
was requested by a message from the Sitt to write to 
her son's steward ; but the letter was scarcely ready 
for post when the steward himself arrived bringing 
the alarming news that the Bey had left them a long 
time before, on the intended day, in fact, and they all at 
the farm had imagined him safe at home, when a peasant 
had happened by a mere chance to meet one of the 
farm servants at a market, and had told him that on 
that very day (naming the date of the Bey's starting), 
a horse had been seen without a rider, and having 
crimson velvet housings, and chased by Bedouins. 
There was no mention of the dead ruffian ; either he 
had been flung into the river or secretly buried to 
avoid suspicion by the neigh bouring peasants, nor 
was there any news of the Bey himself. The peasant 
did not know he had been travelling, and merely 
named the report as a bit of country news. But the 



240 THE WIFE'S JOURNEY, 

steward set off at once and came to the city. The 
commotion caused by his story may be conceived, 
and the agitation of the poor mother and wife- 

The secretary sent a messenger to Irene Hillyard 
telling what had occurred ; the messenger added that 
the ladies were going mad, which information was 
repeated (when Irene returned with him to Cairo a 
few hours later) by the sobbing negress who admitted 
her to the hareem. 

But the lady knew the language of the East far too 
well to imagine that actual and real aberration of 
intellect was intended. She found poor Ain el Hayat 
in a sad state indeed ; for her mother-in-law had re- 
proached her as the cause of her husband's death (for 
they not very unnaturally supposed him dead), as she 
said he had lost powerful friends by her making him 
affront the minister, whose brother's daughter he had 
declined as a bride, and that his cruel enemies, there- 
fore, felt free to assassinate him ! 

She had locked herself in her room, poor little 
woman ! or rather in Zohrab's own little study, for 
her own had only a curtained door, and would admit 
no one till Irene appeared. After she had wept and 
sobbed till her friend felt it " exceeded," and would 
make her helpless, she took a mother's place and 
tried to be almost stern, till she obliged her to drink 
orange-flower water, and let her face be sprinkled ; 
when a little composed, she told her that she had 
seen her brother on the previous day, and they h^ 



THE WIFE'S JOURNEY. 241 

decided on sending the honest peasant Hassan, 
whose g^titude for his rescue from prison bound him 
to their interests, to the upper province at once by 
railway ; he came from the country round Benesouef, 
himself, and knew all the villages about, and would 
excite less suspicion than a better dressed person. A 
clever lad of seventeen, from the Bey's own farm, was 
found to accompany him, and they had set off early 
this morning, for the train started at half-past nine. 
This had been done on their own authority, because, 
before the steward's arrival, Mr. Hillyard had felt 
uneasy about his friend's delay, and wondered at no 
steps being taken by his family. He hoped that the 
Bey might only have had a fall, and been hurt not 
even seriously, perhaps ; at any rate the peasants 
Were to inquire and search carefully all the villages 
round. 

This plan, and the fact that the men must have 
lactually crossed the steward on his way, relieved Ain 
el Hayat, and the mother was even more hopeful, so 
they were induced to take some food by Irene's en- 
ibreaties, for every one had been fasting from sorrow. 
She then left them and went to her brother's house, 
with the promise to come whenever sent for. 

On the third day, in the evening, the two peasants 
returned, and went straight to the Bey's house. It 
was eight o'clock only, but the place was quiet, and 
most of the slaves already asleep ; their irregular 
lMJ:>its being such that one day they would be up till 

R 



242 THE WIFE'S JOURNEY, 

midnight, or even daylight, and the next, go to 
sleep (with the fowls) at sunset. However, the days 
being short, it was already dark at eight. 

The boab desired a servant, whom he roused, to go 
to Mr. Hillyard's and bring the lady, and he would 
arouse the family, meanwhile; he heard the news 
first, of course, and finding it was good, was eager to 
let every one know as soon as possible. The Bey 
was not only alive, as we already know, but had been 
moved to the house of a sheikh, only an hour's ride 
fiom Benesouef He was, however, very weak still, 
and could not yet travel ; in fact they did not feel 
sure he would recover, but gave the best possible 
view of the case to the ladies when they were sent for 
to give their account to Osman, who duly transmitted 
it to them. 

When Irene came, which she did as soon as a 
carriage could be obtained, she found there was a 
letter for her from Mr. Freeman. She was not 
personally acquainted with him, but had heard him 
mentioned by her step-mother once in a letter as a 
clergyman who had passed several years in the East, 
and was an excellent and agreeable man. They had 
met at some missionary assembly, and she and Clara 
had liked him much, and were quite sorry to hear 
he had been over- working in his parish, and was 
advised to go abroad for some months ; they had no 
idea he was to go to Egypt, however. Mr. Freeman 
wrote to Mrs. Hillyard, not only as a confidential 



THE WIFE'S JOURNEY, 243 

friend of the Bey and his wife, therefore, but as a lady 
known to him by character already. He said that 
Zohrab had been almost well as to the wound a few 
days before, but remained weak, and seemed not to 
have got over the shock of the fall and the loss of 
blood ; that he was wild to be moved to the coast, 
hoping to travel down to Cairo very soon, and as 
the Bedouins had exhausted their provender for the 
horses and cattle, they were equally desirous to be 
en route again ; so his persuasions to delay a short 
time longer had been overruled ; that they all had 
reached the sheikh's house, where they were quite 
safe, but the shaking and fatigue had told unfavour- 
ably on his patient's symptoms. He had found a 
tolerably expert surgeon belonging to the soldiers 
then quartered at Benesouef, whose opinion coincided 
with his own, and who advised a week or ten days of 
entire repose, after which he said, if fever did not set 
in, he would be all right ; but Zohrab was frightened 
about himself, thought he was going to die ; " and 
though," he wrote, "I believe he is too sincere a 
Christian to fear death for himself, he is in a great 
state of anxiety at the idea he may die, and not see 
the wife he seems so devoted to again. He told me 
to ask you to urge her to come to him, and if you can, 
I really feel it may make all the difference in his 
recovery. He is evidently so desirous of speaking to 
her, or it may be that he fears something I know 
nothing of She is a Christian also as far as I under- 



244 ^^^ WIFE'S JOURNEY. 

stand him. But you know Orientals are so little used 
to name their wives or speak of them to men friends, 
that I know nothing about his reasons, and only tell 
you the /or/. Bring or send the young lady if you can/* 
Mr. Freeman did not mention the baptism ; he could 
not be perfectly sure the letter might not go astray, 
so he wrote with some d^ree of caution, though 
Hassan appeared simple and honest, and spoke with 
the utmost respect of his dear lady, who had pitied his 
afflictions and dried the tears of his wife and children 
he said. 

When Irene read the letter she was a little puzzled 
how to act at first. She knew that the journey was 
not very long or very fatiguing, and that any English 
wife, mother or sister would start off by the morning's 
train without a moment's hesitation, but to an Eastern 
Jady it was another matter ; it was not want of love, 
but she was unused to hasty journeys, or to acting on 
emergencies^ which require that the mind should be 
made up and the preparations hurried in a brief space 
of time. The notion of starting by a railway (still 
looked on by the older women ol close hareems, or those 
which kept up the strictest customs of seclusion, as a 
Frank innovation), and then riding on rough peasant 
donkeys across the fields in a part of the country they 
had never visited, and without due thought and long 
preparation even, would scare them dreadfully, and 
Sitt Fatmeh would most likely forbid her daughter- 
in-law to go ; besides, if she knew there was a Frank 
man in the sheikh's house it would be worse ; he 



THE WIFE'S JOURNEY. 245 

might see the lady (veiled of course), but still it would 
not be what Sitt Fatmeh approved in any way. 

Irene, however, soon made up her plan, and finding 
a black girl lying on a mat, ready dressed as is their 
way, soon roused and sent her to fetch Osman 
Aga, who was smoking a pipe with the peasants down 
stairs, and enjoying a dish of gossip on village affairs 
from them after having heard all they could tell of 
his master's state. They had given the best view, 
but besides their wish to comfort the family, they 
really were not aware of the depression that possessed 
the Bey ; and it was a good thing, for the alarm would 
have spread like wild-fire. 

" Now, Osman Aga," said Irene, as the sooty func- 
tionary made his appearance at the door of a small 
room, where she had established herself while the 
ladies were drinking coffee and crying alternately 
in another apartment, " Now, Osman Aga, you are a 
sensible man. Listen. You know I have a letter 
from the English gentleman } " 

" The doctor, Sitt Irene, or rather they say he is a 
kaseess " (priest or religious minister of the Chris- 
tians), "and not a doctor ; but he is clever and good, 
Hassan tells me, and loves my dear lord so much, 
Allah the All-wise and Powerful bless him ! " 

" Well, Osman Aga, this good man writes that 
although he hopes your master is not so bad as he 
fancies himself — being weak, you know — yet to cross 
his wishes may hurt him." 

" Who dares cross his wishes ? " said the aga; 



246 THE WIFE'S JOURNEY. 

t. 

" No one can, if you and Sitt Ain el Hayat will 
agree to what he wants. He wants his wife to come 
to him directly — to-morrow morning." 

" Sitt Fatmeh will never allow it What can I do ? 
I dare not cross her ; and I do not like to cross him. 
But you see, Sitt Irene, our ladies are not like your 
frangees. People would cry out if my young lady 
went about like a common person in that way." 

" Look you, Osman Aga, if I find her willing, and 
that I go with her and take the nurse Amneh, would 
you go with us ? " 

" Sitt Fatmeh ! " whispered the negro, shaking his 
head, " / am ready, but what can we do with herV^ 

"You shall go and bring two black silk A^^/ir^zj " 
(the large mantle worn by citizens* wives of respecta- 
bility over their dress) ** and a carriage early in the 
morning, and take us both in that disguise to the 
railroad." 

" Sitt Fatmeh will not allow it," he replied ; " but I 
will procure the habaras.* 

Irene was afraid her scheme would fail, but fortune 
favours the brave. She dismissed the aga, telling him 
she would see next day what could be done, and 
begged him to name it to no one meanwhile. 

After a troubled sleep, she rose very early and went 
into the anteroom, but found no one except a slave, 
who told her Sitt Fatmeh had ordered a carriage at 
daybreak, and had driven off to her daughter's hareem 
to tell her that her brother was alive. Her husband 



THE WIFE'S JOURNEY, 247 

would have gone to Zohrab Bey, of course, the slave 
added, but he was absent from home. The Sitt meant 
to stay all day with Sitt Nezleh, and was vexed that 
her daughter-in-law refused to accompany her, but 
she had cried all night almost, and wished to sleep in 
the morning. This was just what her friend could 
have wished for, and after she had taken her coffee 
she went to the young lady's room, and found her 
awake, and very glad to see and talk with her. 

" I am rested now, dear Sitt Irene ; but I was 1^ 
tired two hours ago, and I dread my sister-iitv-law's 
talk ; she never stops speaking ! Oh, that J could but 
see my dear lord again ! Do you thifiik he will get 
well soon ? " 

Irene saw she had no idea of danger, and feared to 
frighten her ; yet if she had not some real fear it would 
be difficult to ^jet her to break through hareem 
customs. It is not that whole troops of ladies and 
staves do not go by train occasionally when a family 
move is necessary ; some go every year even to Con- 
stantinople, if they are Turkish families. But a 
sudden journey, in which it would not be possible to 
take a number of slaves, and still more, when they meant 
to go to the house of a village sheikh whose hareem 
would be a single room occupied by his wife or wives, 
and with none of the arrangements usual for Eastern 
women of high position, was shocking to her at first, 
and when Irene proposed it she opened her eyes wide 
>vith amazement at so outrageous a plan. 



248 THE WIFE'S JOURNEY, 

" I must tell you the truth, dear sister," she then 
said, " and read out of the letter the part about the 
Bey's own feelings, and his desire to see his wife, if 
Sitt Irene would bring her to him at once, with his 
nurse and Osman Aga. 

" Oh, I will go ; I will not lose a single moment ! 
she then exclaimed, wiping the tears that began to 
flow ag^in. " Thank God my mother-in-law is away ; 
I do not think I could go if she were here ; she 
would lock the doors. Call Osman Aga and Amneh 
and let us arrange at once ! " and with no loss of time 
they were summoned ; for the train went at half- 
past nine, and it was already eight o'clock. But 
Osman had been faithful, and got the habaras very 
early. When he received the order for the carriag^e 
it occurred to him that the old lady's absence made 
her daughter-in-law mistress for the day, and that 
love and the English lady's support might induce Ain 
el Hay at to agree to take the journey. So, equipped 
as two citizen's wives, they were conducted to the 
station in a carriage, with the nurse and Osman, and 
the peasant Hassan as guide to the village, and were 
shortly on their way to Benesouef, whence they must 
ride on donkeys to the village, where the invalid was. 
Mrs. Hillyard had adopted the native garb on this 
occasion, that she might the better protect her young 
friend, and also avoid the observation likely to be 
excited if the young mistress were seen driving off 
with the Frank lady. 



THE WIFE'S JOURNEY. 249 

The railway journey was uneventful, and not very 
long ; by the asser (afternoon) they descended, and 
were taken into the small waiting-room at the station, 
the aga standing to guard the door while they partook 
of some provisions which Amneh had hastily put up 
in a large muslin handkerchief, which supplies the 
place of our bags and baskets, with Oriental ladies 
and slaves. 

By the time they were ready to start, the donkeys 
awaited them, and assuming their face-veils ag^in, 
they mounted and rode across country through the 
maize, and cotton, and cane-fields for about an hour ; 
then Hassan said that they were quite near the place, 
and pointed to a large but poor and straggling village 
of mud-huts, with a small mosque at one end, in a grove 
of palms, and near the middle a white-washed house, 
mean enough (but very conspicuous among huts), 
which, he said, was the sheikh's abode. They soon 
arrived, and the ladies were quickly taken in (to avoid 
the crowd of wondering children, who instantly 
assembled) ; up a narrow staircase of mud-brick they 
followed the aga. Hassan remained below with the 
owner of the house. The upper story consisted of 
two tolerably large, though very rude, chambers, with 
an anteroom, or corridor, open to the sky, between 
them. In this a large mat was spread, and it was 
used evidently as the chief sitting-room for most part 
of the year. A woman sifting corn and a couple of 
children playing about were its only occupants. Irene 



250 THE WIFE'S JOURNEY. 

whispered to the aga, and he went to the open door 
where she had spied the figfure of a European 
man. 

" He knows Arabic," she said ; "Hassan told me so. 
Tell him to go down for a little, as the lady is come. " 

Mr. Freeman accordingly disappeared, with great 
celerity, by another door, and Osman preceded his 
mistress to the Bey*s room. Irene then divested 
herself of her cumbrous disguise, and leaving the 
slaves to wait in the corridor, went down in search of 
her countryman, and they mutually introduced them- 
selves, and talked over the case of their poor friends. 
Irene was surprised and delighted that the Bey had 
advanced so much as to wish to be enrolled in a 
Christian church ; and Mr. Freeman rejoiced scarcely 
less to find that the wife was also a pilgrim to the 
heavenly city. He told Mrs. Hillyard that he wished 
to return to Cairo, having been detained (though most 
willingly and thankfully indeed) long beyond his 
intended time, and that friends were expecting him. 
"Besides, I shall be in the way here," said J^ 4 **I 
am going off, therefore, if you can stay, by the down- 
train which will come to Benesouef, in two hours. So 
I shall take one of your steeds back. My plan is to 
send a dahabeeyeh for our friend, and let him descend 
the river quietly, as soon as he can bear to be carried 
to the shore." 

Irene then gave him her brother's address, and 
asked him to call on the secretary of the Bey, who 



THE WIFE'S JO URNE Y. 2 5 1 

would explain everything (a letter had been left with 
him when the ladies started, asking him to tell Sitt 
Fatmeh that the Bey was in some danger, and had 
insisted on his wife joining him). But no one who 
had the honour of the worthy lady's acquaintance 
envied the secretary his task ; true, he would not see 
her, but from behind the curtain he would Aear her, 
and angry they all knew she would be; all the 
more that her heart yearned to be with her son her- 
self all the time. But it was not the custom of the 
country to hurry off to dying relatives, however dear, 
and custom's chain was too strong for old hands to 
break. Had her temper been more yielding and 
gentle neither her daughter-in-law nor her English 
friend would have set off without communicating with 
her, but they knew it would make a scene, and there- 
fore acted as seemed best in the emergency. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

ONE IN CHRIST. 

WHETHER it was the happiness of having his 
wife's presence once more, or that rest had 
done its work, the Bey recovered rapidly from the 
very day after the arrival of the ladies. It was a new 
life for the fair Circassian, brought up in idleness, 
though by nature of a lively energetic turn ; to nurse 
her husband, dependent for some of his daily com- 
forts on her white delicate hands. She would hardly 
allow his good old nurse to do anything that it was in 
her own power to do, and developed a marvellous skill 
in making little delicacies for the invalid. This is indeed 
an accomplishment often found among the white 
slaves, but his mother had been rather jealous during 
the only illness Zohrab had had since their marriage, 
and would not let her do anything ; she was, in fact, 
for the first time, able to hold a wife's position (ac- 
cording to the ideas of Europeans), and her English 
friend was charmed to watch her, when the passage 
door was screened off by mats hung across, and 
further guarded by Osman from without, going 
about unveiled, her trailing dress drawn up through a 



ONE IN CHRIST, 253 

sash, and her hands white with flour, or busy roasting 
pigeons over a tiny fire of charcoal. In the evening, 
when the invalid was better, the two ladies sat beside 
his sofa, and they read the Scriptures and talked. In 
one of these conversations when Zohrab was almost 
strong enough to be moved to the dahabeeh, which 
was awaiting him at Benesouef, he told his wife of the 
baptism. She was at once rejoiced and alarmed, but 
soon felt satisfied he was right, and professed her 
willingness to follow in his steps whenever he should 
tell her that it seemed right 

After nearly ten days had passed there was no 
possible hindrance to their return ; the railway would 
even have been no longer too fatiguing, but the long 
ride previous was thought bad, and besides, he enjoyed 
the idea of a few quiet days on the Nile with Ain el 
HayaL He pressed Irene to go down with them, but 
as she could now be spared, she preferred hastening 
home by the short route. On her arrival she prepared 
the way as far as possible with the mother-in-law, 
calling to report of the Bey, and explain that he had 
been in a state in which to thwart him might have 
done serious injury. So when the family were to- 
gether again the next week, matters went pretty 
smoothly, and life went on apparently as before. 
Not really, for the two who had begun to drink of the 
well of eternal life, could never be as before. And the 
mother, much more than they, was full of secret un- 
easiness, knowing by longer experience the ins and outs 



254 ONE IN CHRIST. 

of oriental envy and malice, and how, if one plan fails 
another is tried. 

Her son had, on his recovery, written to some 
officials and seen others, but a good deal of time had 
been lost during his helpless state ; for the peasants 
in the neighbourhood of the place where he had been 
attacked had been bribed (Ahmed was not well off, 
but a few purses of gold go far among very poor 
men) ; moreover, he had contrived to make himself 
useful to a half brother of Zohrab's, a young lad with 
neither talent nor good character, whose mother had 
always hated Sitt Fatmeh, and was intensely jealous 
of her still. By services in some money matters he 
ingratiated himself with these two easily enough ; the 
rival wife, though both had been long widows, was a 
yet more willing tool than the boy, who, however, was 
aware of being the next in succession, if Zohrab died, 
as he had neither uncles nor children. * 

Through interest and bribery, therefore, the matter 
dropped, without proper investigations being made, 
and the mother well knew that as no one had been 
caught, an enemy was somewhere at large. 

Mr. Freeman had been on the Nile with a party of 
friends all this time. He had seen Mr. Hillyard pre- 
viously, and explained to him that he had been 
induced to confer the rite of Christian baptism on 
the man they were both so much interested in, 

* In the East the uncle takes a much larger share of inheritance 
than the sons, unless the father provides specially for them. 



ONE IN CHRIST, 255 

though he confessed it might seem rash, as he knew 
personally so little of him. **But," he said, **the 
strong feeling Zohrab had at the time of being near 
death, or, at any rate, in great danger, and his earnest 
desire for the baptism, with the clear and humble 
profession he made of faith, were strong reasons for 
departing from the usual custom ; and besides, he 
had heard from the unconscious Nubian, who had 
served him long, such a testimony to the Bey*s life at 
home, and also in his sojourn in Europe, that alto- 
gether he had felt impelled to act as he had done. 
'*But,'* added he, "if ever he goes back, I shall 
reproach myself severely." 

" I do not expect it," said Edmund Hillyard ; " but 
there are breakers ahead, and it is not all who stand 
firm in the day of trial. I shall let you know on your 
return how matters are going on, and we must not 
forget that in the case of a wealthy and rising man, 
there is nothing to gain and all to lose in a worldly 
point of view. In India there are, I believe, occasion- 
ally some poor men who have to be supported or found 
employment if they join the Christian church, and 
whose great poverty may possibly make it an induce- 
ment ; though even there, I should imagine, the risk 
and persecution were great ; but here, where the English 
have no power (it may one day be different, but 
I speak as things now are), the poor man gains 
nothing, and the rich man loses much, so that hypo- 
crites have no temptation. I am certain Zohrab Bey 



2S6 ONE IN CHRIST. 

is no hypocrite ; his face and words agree with his 
character, and show an honest, frank nature ; and he 
has had singular advantages in being with your 
family in England so long. No, Mr. Hillyard, I 
do not doubt his sincerity ; it is perseverance in time 
of danger that I fear may be wanting, for he is 
wrapped up in his wife, who your sister tells me 
is so beautiful and devoted to him, and he clings to 
his home and mother, his friends and position, as 
most would do, no doubt, in his place. We must 
not look forward too much, but pray earnestly for 
him." 

So the Englishmen parted, and we return to the 
hareem, where the curtain was withdrawn cm this day 
to admit the lively daughter of Sitt Fatmeh, who was 
come to salute her mother and Ain el Hayat on the 
occasion of the lesser festival, as it was called, just 
before the great fast of the Moslems. 

This year the fast fell in the cool season and short 
days, and consequently the trial of fasting from sun- 
rise to sunset, without even a drop of water, would 
be much less than when it comes in summer. Pos- 
sibly on this account, or for some other reason, Sitt 
Nezleh was in very high spirits, and kept her mother 
laughing and the slaves giggling and grinning, as she 
sat sipping her coffee. 

" Ha, Morgiana you have made the coffee doubly 
fetrong, as I told you, because to-morrow — none all 
day! (with a comical gesture). Well, we must be 



ONE IN CHRIST. 2^7 

merry while we can. I hope you have a dainty 
dinner for me. Mother, I must tell you what I saw 
as we drove along. One of those dervishes was 
sitting in the street, a dirty, ragged creature, with 
hardly rags enough to cover him ; and as they have, 
you know, very long hair, well, I saw a handsome 
boy, mashallah, a Pasha's son one might truly see, 
dressed in the Frank way, only with a tarboush. He 
was riding a nice little donkey, and attended by a 
servant ; and as the women, boys, and some men too, 
who passed, stopped to kiss the hand of the holy man, 
he looked up expecting the young gentlemen to do 
the same, and called out, * Come, my son, and kiss 
my hand. ' The young lad smiled good-humouredly, 
but shook his head." 

" Ah, you are a Christian ! " cried one of the 
passers-by (with a naughty word). " Come you, and 
kiss my hand," continued the dervish, holding up his 
dirty palm towards the servant, who had a turban, 
and appeared a Moslem. 

" No, no, I am a Christian too ! " the man replied 
hurrying after his master. 

"He is balked ! " said one of the men near 
laughing. 

Then some of the peasant women, going along with 
their baskets of gillek (fuel of the poor, made of 
manure dried in the sun), stopped and took his head 
in their arms and kissed it. 

Ain el Hayat gave a look of undisguised aversion. 

S 



258 ONE IN CHRIST. 

• How can any one suppose that such dirty creatures 
are holy ? " said she, " or that God, who loves purity, 
can be pleased with them for not using water, which is 
called the gift of God?" 

" It is true that / prefer the white dervish," said her 
sister ; " that holy man, who always wears white gar- 
ments, and has a veil on his turban when he goes out 
of doors, that no women may see his face (he never 
sees any woman except his own wife and family, I am 
told), but people go to kiss his feet as well as his 
hands, he is so holy ; but he is peculiarly clean ; some 
of the little princesses went to kiss his feet, and his 
robes were quite beautiful. That is a better sort of 
holiness than dirt and matted hair." 

" Daughter ! " said her mother reprovingly, " all are 
holy men ; there are different kinds of holiness, but 
all are followers of the prophet, and to be honoured 
as such." 

" Are you going to keep fast, sister ? " asked Nezleh 
of Ain el Hayat. 

" No ; my husband has never allowed me since 
our marriage ; he thinks it not good for my health." 

" Dear sister, that is wrong ; though he is my 
brother I must say it ; why it is God's command, and 
we ought to fast therefore, and you are not ill now." 

** My lord says it is the command of man and not 
of God,* replied the Circassian gently. 

"You need not talk to Ain el Hayat about those 
things," said her mother-in-law, knocking the ashes 



ONE IN CHRIST. 259 



out of her pipe with a pettish air ; " she is almost a 
Christian, When the MoUah was reciting yesterday 
(the blind man, you know, who comes to us at festi- 
vals) she actually said she was tired, and went away 
to her room." 

Ain el Hayat blushed crimson but made no answer, 
and presently the arrival of sweetmeats made a 
diversion, and the visit ended peaceably. 

Everything went on quietly indeed for several 
weeks after this, and Sitt Fatmeh began to hope her 
son's enemy was gone away, or that he mighty in a 
peasant's disguise, have been the slain man, for she 
did not hear the name of Ahmed Mohammed now 
anywhere, but somehow she was afraid to ask. 

At last the month of Ramadan, or the great fast, 
was over ; it had fallen in our month of November 
that year. The winter had come ; the fresh, pleasant 
Egyptian winter, when oranges hang ripe on the trees, 
and sugar-canes in camel loads are seen daily entering 
the city, with their rich purple stems and waving gfreen 
leaves ; when the emerald clover begins to spread over 
the fields, and the young lambs and kids appear 
among the flocks, and *' green things " are abundant 
upon the earth. In the windy days indeed the milk- 
woman will observe that " the world is cold ! " as her 
blue cotton or linen robe flutters about her bare legs ; 
and tjie delicate hareem lady (more chilly in her large 
stone-flagged lofty mansion than the active peasant 
on foot half the day) will don her fur-lined jacket and 



26o ONE IN CHRIST. 

sit crouched among her cushions, till the sun comes 
out again. But, except at night, when occasionally 
there is really sharp cold, there is, as far south as 
Cairo, nothing to cause real suffering from wintry 
weather ; and though many of the peasants say they 
prefersummer, they appear very cheerful in December 
and January also. 

It was on a fine January day, cold and clear, with 
that bright look and brisk feeling about everything 
that is so exhilarating to mind and body, that Zohrab 
Bey, now in his full strength again, and looking par- 
ticularly important and haply a little mysterious also, 
came to his wife's room. 

** Now, my love, I am going to take you a visit, 
or at least *' (for she looked more startled than pleased, 
not for want of affection, but because husband and 
wife never go out together among Moslems), ** I am 
going to send you, with one of your women, to the 
house of Sitt Irene's sister-in-law. She had due 
notice, and all will be arranged. I shall meet you 
there." 

Ain el Hayat knew that this visit was already 
thought of, but was nervous about it, and looked 
pale and anxious. 

" My dear one," said he, " if your feeling is against 
it, I will not urge you ; but I have said before no other 
time may be possible. The English minister is going 
away ; I do not like to have our affairs in any 
stranger's power. He is my friend, and I trust him. 



ONE IN CHRIST. 261 

He will make no noise about it ; and you have known 
Sitt Irene and Sitt Esther so long you will feel at 
ease with them.*' 

" I wish to be a Christian, and I do believe, only I 
am afraid of the people," whispered Ain el Hayat, 
clinging to his arm ; " but I wi// not fear, with Jesus 
to protect me." 

He led her gently to the doorway, and summoned 
Osman to mount the box of the carriage and drive 
with his lady. No slaves from the women were 
needed ; it was only known that she was gone to visit 
Mrs. Edmund Hillyard, which she had once done 
before. 

They had prepared the drawing-room by putting a 
large screen in the middle, and the little party were 
waiting. The Bey was received by the master of the 
house and the clergyman, Mr. Freeman. The ladies 
conducted their muffled visitor behind the screen, and 
the service of baptism was read while she remained 
there; only at the moment of baptism Irene and 
Esther led her to the opening, still veiled, of course, 
to receive the water on her head. She withdrew again 
immediately, and the service was concluded as it 
began, with the person most concerned out of sight. 
But though the Bey had lived long enough in Europe 
to get rid of many old prejudices himself, he felt it 
would be wrong to let his young wife be laid open to 
the suspicion of boldness and want of due decorum 
from all around her, and therefore respected the 



262 ONE IN CHRIST. 

customs which he secretly thought as foolish as they 
were inconvenient 

They were refreshed both body and soul by their 
kind Christian hosts, and the fair Ain el Hayat kissed 
the English ladies very affectionately as they bade 
her farewell, and told them they must now always 
speak of her as sister^ " for I am your sister in Christ 
now.** 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

THE FEAST. 

A CERTAIN trio were holding counsel one day 
in a house by the side of the river, at Boulac, 
The latticed window looked out on the water, now 
not quite at its fullest, but yet in great beauty, and 
studded with the little white sails of the fishing bbats, 
and some larger from the merchant or passenger 
dahabeeychs, going towards the upper province, with 
a brisk, favourable wind. The great suspension bridge, 
with the soldiers coming and going, and the laden 
camels and asses ; and the road leading towards the 
Gezireh Palace, with its avenue of dark, shady lebich 
trees were visible, and made a cheerful view ; but the 
party were too much occupied to be looking out of 
window. The chief person was a lady, wrapped 
closely however, in the common dark-blue mantle of 
a peasant or poor artizan's wife. She was veiled with 
the black mask or face-veil of the Arab women, of 
not the highest class, and used by the poorest also. 
This dress was only assumed to avoid remark, as 
persons of her position, even when elderly, as she 
was, do not usually allow men to visit them ; and if 



264 ^^^ FEAST. 



any visitor should call, she could easily run into the 
next room unnoticed as a servant, &c. 

Her companions were, her son, a heavy looking 
youth of fifteen or more, and the old enemy of 
Zohrab, Ahmed Mohammed. They were deep in 
conversation, and it seemed the man had been re- 
lating something. 

" Yes, as I told your Honour, there are suspicions 
about him already. What you told the minister 
through his sister and mother has not been lost, for I 
heard him speak quite in a different tone from 
formerly about him. I shall find out if he is turned 
Christian really," said he, and " if so ; " he then 
shrugged his shoulders. 

" But it is impossible,*' said the youth ; " my brother 
would never be so foolish ; he must recollect the 
man — what was the dog's name who went over to the 
Christians two years ago, and was imprisoned on bread 
and water } then he was let out because the Franks 
made such a fuss; but he recanted, and saw his mistake 
afterwards, or else, I suppose, he would have been killed. 

** I know it is true, and it will all come out some day ; 
I have had him watched. I am only waiting the right 
moment Why, who will inherit if he is out of the way?" 

" Ha, ha ! " said the lady ; "we all know that, and 
Alee will only get his due, for he was kept out of his 
right shares. When their father died, they all pre- 
tended it was right, but / knew better, and I will be 
revenged on that woman ; may her father — " 



THE FEAST. 265 



** Stop, Sitt Ayesha ! For the prophet's sake don't 
be rash by thy words. See now ; let us to business, 
and not lose time." 

She was at once calm, and stooping down, held 
her head so as to catch what he said in a lower 
voice than before. 

" I may then depend on you," she said, at last. ** Ay, 
I see that I may. Here, write a paper for him. Alee ; 
but take care my son, only what I tell thee ; " for the 
woman knew her son was not very much up in business 
matters of that nature, and feared his committing 
himself." 

She could not read or write, but was shrewd and 
full of cunning, and dictated a few words suitable 
to her purpose, which her son wrote and sealed with 
a silver engraved seal he wore, and then she handed 
some money to her accomplice, for, as will be readily 
surmised, they were plotting against Zohrab, who 
stood, as the stepmother thought, between her son 
and the estates of the father, who had, in. fact, not left 
but given them to his eldest son on his marriage. The 
younger child, who was very young at that time, was 
sufficiently provided for, but not so amply. This 
covetous woman and the enemy of Zohrab, once 
acquainted, naturally became accomplices, for neither 
had any scruples as to the means, provided they could 
escape detection and gain their ends. 

" There is to be a wedding in their family before 
long," said Ahmed, presently, after he had put away 



266 THE FEAST. 



the paper ; " there could not be a better opportunity 
for getting Zohrab into betraying himself, if only I 
can see some of the young men who attend the 
feast beforehand." 

*• His friends will not hear anything against him : 
he is so popular with them," said Ayesha. 

*• Yes ; but Sitt Ayesha, there are crowds at a 
wedding, you know, and the bridegroom's family and 
acquaintance do not, I think, know much of the Bey. 
It is his sister's daughter who is to be married ; it is 
rather sudden, and the g^nd feast is to come off very 
soon. I will do something ; you will know in time. 
So now I will take leave of your Honours ; " and salu- 
ting them with that courteous and deceitful smile 
which his face always wore when he wished to be 
especially pleasant, he took leave. 

" I hope," said the youth, " he is not going to 
murder Zohrab ; I don't love him, certainly, but we 
should only get into trouble and be suspected. If he 
makes them imprison him, or banish him, it would 
be good." 

"Who wants anything more, foolish boy ? Let him 
be banished in good earnest this time, and you get 
the estate, and I am content ;" and the lady retired 
to the inner apartments, while her hopeful son sallied 
forth to his usual evening diversions of gambling or 
other revelling, with his companions in folly. 

Meanwhile, the hareem of Zohrab Bey was once 
more in commotion, but now, with cheerful bustle and 



THE FEAST. 267 



excitement, as the slaves were preparing their ladies' 
new dresses to go the next day to the house of 
the Sitt Nezleh, whose little thirteen years old 
daughter was going to be married ! 

According to custom, the ladies were to spend 
the three days of rejoicing, as they are called, at 
the bride's house ; the third day they all were to 
drive along with her to the dwelling of the bride- 
groom. Formerly the procession was made on 
foot or riding on donkeys, but carriages have for 
many years past been used in Egypt, except by 
the poor ; and, in consequence, the wedding proces- 
sions have lost most of the picturesque and curious 
effect which they had, and which is now only to be 
found in the country marriages, or among quite the 
humblest class in town. 

The grandmother, of course, was in her glory on 
the occasion ; Ain el Hayat felt rather flat about it, 
for her mind was now so much developed, that she 
saw things more in their real light than others ; still 
old habit, aided by her gentle and kindly disposition, 
enabled her to play her part fairly, and give all the 
proper salutations and congratulations. The third 
evening at length arrived, and the convoy, which 
blocked the streets for a long way, set out with men 
running before, carrying torches, and the chariots 
"jostling one another," recalling the passage in the 
prophet Nahum, 

The bride, completely concealed from view by a red 



268 THE FEAST, 



shawl of thin cashmere hiding the entire face, eyes and 
all, was in the foremost carriage with mother, grand- 
mother, and aunt ; the rest foUowod. The gentlemen of 
families and their acquaintance were assembled at the 
bridegroom's house in the salamlik and court, which 
was curtained over with richly coloured and embroi- 
dered tent hangings, such as are always hired on these 
occasions, and hung with lamps in profusion. The 
door was crowded with inferior guests, for whom 
chairs and benches had been provided, and who were 
drinking coffee and smoking. The black hareem 
servants made all stand back as the carriages drew up, 
and they formed a line on each side to keep off the 
spectators, as the veiled and muffled figures descended 
and rapidly passed through the archway into the 
passage, and disappeared under the hareem curtain. 
The marriage ceremony had been performed quite 
privately with only certain relatives and the Mollah 
present. The " rejoicings " alone are public in oriental, 
or at least in Mahommedan weddings. The music 
bears a prominent part. Hired singers of supposed 
talent in their art perform, with the native instruments 
as accompaniment ; and the Egyptians are certainly 
extremely fond of music in their own way, though the 
absence of harmony makes it soon wearisome to 
persons of cultivated musical tastes. Coffee and 
sherbet are almost the only things offered, except 
sugar-plums sometimes. The crowd of mixed visitors 
leave by degrees about midnight, but a great number 



THE FEAST, 269 



are invited to the feast, and these stay nearly or quite 
the whole night, the supper being rarely served till 
twelve or one o'clock, and lasting a considerable time. 
Instead of one large table, a number of small low 
round Eastern tables are placed on the floor with trays 
full of dishes, savory and sweet, upon them, and one 
set of guests after another is served, the remains being 
carried to the servants below afterwards. The gentle- 
men usually are feasted first, but also in several 
parties, unless the family be modernized enough to 
have set up a larger table in the salamlik, which 
was the case here, not for the ladies, but for the male 
guests. The liberally piled dishes of immense size 
were borne by the slaves and servants, and placed on 
the table. The guests, pushing up their coat sleeves, set 
to work in earnest, for most had not eaten since noon, 
except a few nuts and comfits. Those who were in 
the European garb, so nearly universal among the 
higher class of men, looked rather droll with their 
fingers in the rice, or tearing fowls limb from limb. 
But the older merchants and scribes, who still wore 
their rich and tasteful costume with its loose sleeve, 
were more in character, and seemed quite at ease, and 
not troubled with formality. Some rolled their sleeves 
back as a lady does who is about to make a pie, and 
boldly plunged their fists into the snowy piles of rice 
and attacked the delicious roast lambs stuffed with 
pistachios and raisins, like men who were not 
ashamed of their good appetites and primitive habits. 



2/0 THE FEAST, 



When the meal was over, and the hands duly washed, 
the inevitable smoking began again, and the music 
and singing were resumed at intervals. It was during 
one of these pauses, when the singers were doubtless 
eating and resting themselves, that a young man who 
was sitting near Zohrab Bey asked some questions on 
politics, to which he replied in a guarded way, as the 
man was nearly a stranger. But he persevered, taking 
a religious turn, not exactly as a devout man (it was 
pretty well known that he cared for no religion very 
seriously), but trying to show that the religion of 
Islam was so mixed with all their politics, that no one 
could be a true Egyptian or a true Turk if he were 
leagued with Europeans, or held any of their views. 
He ignored the fact (perhaps really did not know it), 
that Christianity arose in the East, and seemed to im- 
ply, at any rate, that the Copts must have got their 
views from Europe, while the Franks he abused as a set 
of detestable infidels. Some, especially the older guests, 
agreed with him, others laughed, and some droll 
remarks were made by one or two who had lately 
visited Paris, and whose idea of Christian society 
was drawn from the most worldly and fast circles 
of that city. But the young man who first spoke 
had an intention that no one except a comrade or 
two of his own guessed at, and instead of letting 
the subject drop, he artfully drew on Zohrab into 
an argument, and at last pushed him, as it were, 
into a comer by declaring that it was well known 



THE FEAST. 27 1 



he had turned Christian when in Europe a year 
ago. Of course neither this man nor Ahmed (who 
had primed him beforehand) had any idea of the 
private baptism, but by some means they had 
learned several things, small in themselves, but 
which, put together, led them to think that he had 
given up the faith of his fathers, or if not absolutely, 
that he had no attachment to it, so they might set 
him in a bad light with the minister, who had given 
him the office he held, because it happened that 
the minister in question was an old and very 
bigoted man. Zohrab made no reply, but shrugged 
his shoulders, as if to say it was no business 
of theirs. 

" Ah, ah, he cannot deny it," said liis opponent. 

"You talk nonsense," replied another, "Zohrab 
Bey, say the fatthah^ and stop his mouth at once." 

Zohrab could of course have done so, but he felt 
that would be a distinct falsehood as he now was, 
and therefore refused, only saying, however, that 
a feast of rejoicing was not the time for such talk. 
After a little more urging. on the part of several of 
the more religious Moslems present who thought it 
desirable he should stop the others in that way, 
the matter was left, for the music began to call 
attention again, and no more was said. Very few 
thought of it again, it was just an argument, and 
no more ; but the emissary of Ahmed gained his 
point, which was to have witnesses, if needed, that 



272 THE FEAST. 



Zohrab had declined to repeat the Moslem formula 
("There is but one God, and Mohammed is the 
prophet of God ") called the Fatthah. 

He went the next morning to the minister to 
whose department the Bey officially belonged, and 
reported boldly that he was a Christian. Abder- 
rahman Bey, for that was his name, at first refused 
to believe them, but was at last induced to send 
for Zohrab and question him in private. He would 
not then deny the truth, and confessed that he 
believed in Christianity ; but, he added, there was 
a professed toleration in the country, that many 
Copts, and even Europeans were employed in 
various offices, and that so long as he did not 
interfere with the state religion, it was no business 
of any one to interfere with his thoughts and views. 

The minister sat stroking his long beard in silence 
for a few minutes ; he was pondering the case. Had 
it been a poor man he would at once have thrown 
him into prison till he either died or recanted. A 
man in the Bey's position, with powerful connec- 
tions, was different, and having no witnesses of his 
having been baptized (only of his refusal to repeat 
the fatthah) made a difference. He desired him 
to send in a formal resignation of his situation, 
and said he should then communicate with his 
colleagues and consider what should be done. He 
was very angry, but did not give much vent to 
his feelings, while considering what to do. Ahmed's 



THE FEAST. 273 



friend was a scribe in the office of the minister, 
and lost no time in telling him what had passed, 
and added, if anything should happen to Zohrab 
they will not be sorry, but will say, " All right." 

Sitt Fatmeh and her daughter-in-law had not yet 
returned, though the festival itself was over. Nezleh 
had pressed them to stay to the end of the week, 
(two days more only), at her house, to console her 
for her daughter's absence as she would feel lonely at 
first without her. Ain el Hayat was very unwilling 
to be absent from her husband, but he begged her 
to gratify his sister, and she agreed to stay, there- 
fore. His mother sent the greater part of her slaves 
back, and told the nurse Amneh to be careful of 
her master's comfort, and on no account to let 
any one but herself make his coffee. 

He returned home, and the following day was 
sent for to the minister, as related. He was half 
inclined to go straight to his sister's, and tell what 
had passed to his wife, but on second thoughts 
decided, as it was but one day more, to wait till 
she returned. He called on Mr. Hillyard, but did 
not find him at home, and being very tired with 
the festivities of yesterday, went early home to 
sleep. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER. 

T^HE Greek deaconess Eurydice was busy at the 
-*• farm, in her quiet, useful occupations two da)^ 
after the festival at Sitt Nezleh's, of which she had 
heard through the servants, and been invited to 
attend, but declined ; for she cared for nothing of 
that kind. She was engaged in preparing bandages 
and herbs for an injured leg of some peasant in the 
neighbourhood, and was sitting in the court-yard to 
have the warmth of the sun, as the air was rather 
chilly in the rooms. She looked younger rather than 
older, though nearly two years had passed since Irene 
had rescued her from slavery, both of mind and body. 
The calm, happy look on her face was very different 
from the stolid coldness of former days ; and she was 
. so cheerful, as well as kind, in her words of sympathy 
to the poor or sick, that she was now not only 
respected, but loved. While she sat thus in the court, 
she was suprised by the sound of donkey's-feet on the 
stone steps at the gate, and looking up saw Hamid 
the Nubian riding in. 
" Why, Hamid, you here ? Have you any message 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER. 275 

from my lady or the Bey that you come in such haste ?** 
for his steed was quite heated she saw. 

"Sitt Ain el Hayat begs you to come; the 
Bey is ill." And he then detailed rapidly the chief 
symptoms of his master, and, shaking with sobs as he 
spoke, urged her to lose no time. 

" You have a doctor ? ** she said, going to a box 
which she unlocked while speaking. 
** Sitt Fatmeh came home at once when she found he 
was ill, and sent for the man who had attended the 
Bey's father, a Moslem doctor. The Bey wanted the 
German, who is said to be clever. I think he dis- 
likes this man ; he is a very strong Moslem, and you 
know, Sitt Irene, some of those don't like my dear 
lord, because he is so fond of Christians." 

**Ah! I understand, my son," she said, taking a 
small bundle in her hand. 

** Yes, yes, I see how it is ; only, if he have not 
drunk too much there is yet time ; the action is not so 
quick as some." 

" The cup was only half empty, I know," said the boy 
who fully understood his master to have been poisoned. 

*' Thank God ! Now let us ride as fast as we can." 
The distance was shorter than at the autumn season, 
and they reached Cairo in little more than two hours, 
though at some seasons it was double. However, 
they galloped part of the way. They were conducted 
silently up-stairs, and went straight to the apartment 
of Ain el Hayat, who came to meet them, pale and 



2/6 THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER. 

trembling, but composed herself by a great effort, and 
said, in a whisper, " I have no faith in that doctor ; 
he is stupid, or else — I do not know what I say ! 
Eurydice, come in at once, my sister, and see my 
lord!" 

The Greek stood looking at the Bey for some 
instants, and then asked him two or three questions 
as to his symptons. He replied, speaking distinctly, 
though in great pain and very much exhausted. She 
then took hold of his hand and felt it, and afterwards 
signed to the wife and friend to come into the next 
room with her (his mother was holding his head and 
bathing his forehead with vinegar). 

As soon as they were put of hearing, Eurydice said, 
"He has been poisoned ! " 

Ain el Hayat sank on the ground, almost fainting, 
and Irene, fearing she would lose consciousness 
threw some water quickly on her face ; she then 
roused herself, sat up rocking herself to and fro, and 
groaning. 

" Hush ! said Eurydice ; do not let him hear you ; 
do not let him know what it is. By God's grace, 
I think I have here what may cure him, an antidote, 
if the poison is what I believe, and that he has not 
taken it too long, or in a large quantity. Now call 
Hamid!" 

She spoke with authority, quite unlike her usual 
quiet, gentle manner, for she saw there was no time 
to lose in fears and lamentations. The Nubian was 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER. 277 

not far off, and though he was not admitted into the 
hareem, he was allowed to stand at the curtained 
entrance to answer her questions. It seemed that the 
only thing the Bey had partaken of that day was his 
morning coffee, the nurse prepared it as usual (she or 
his mother when at home had latterly always made 
it for him). She found him asleep later than usual, 
and took it back to the kitchen, where several of the 
slaves were breakfasting, leaving the cup on the tray 
outside the kitchen-door. In about half an hour she 
made fresh coffee as she heard him call, and thinking 
he was in a hurry, she took up the tray quickly and 
filled his cup at once. Soon after he had drunk it, he 
began to complain to Osman (who had come to him) 
of severe and sudden symptoms of illness, giddiness, 
and pain, and burning in his head and hands. He 
told Osman to inquire if any one had come into the 
kitchen while the nurse was boiling the coffee. On 
careful inquiry, one of the black girls said she had 
seen a woman walking across the anteroom near the 
kitchen-door. She first thought it one of themselves, 
but, looking into the kitchen, found all were there 
but herself and the nurse. She looked all about, but 
could see no one, and then called to the boab. He 
confessed he had been asleep. How it was he slept 
so heavily as not to hear a stranger come in was 
amazing, for he was very faithful ; but perhaps he 
had unconsciously had a little opium mixed in his 
beans that morning! The girl added, that on 



278 THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER. 

thinking of the dress of the woman she had seen, it 
struck her that it was a man in disguise. She had an 
awkward way of walking that made her fancy it 

Eurydice told the lad to go for a German doctor to 
make sure, as she told Irene, " The lady will have to 
yield, for her doctor is very likely in the plot; he is not 
a man of high character, I have heard, though he is 
said to be clever. But if I am right, this is the 
remedy, and the only one, I think; but, pray, Sitt 
Irene, before we g^ve it !" 

They went to the Bey*s room again, the Greek 
having taken out of her little bundle a small quantity 
of a dried plant, and macerated it in vinegar and 
water, while she was listening to the story. She then 
strained the liquid and begged him to swallow it, 
which he did without hesitation, then taking her 
hand, he said, 

** Sister, I know it is Ahmed's work — poison ! but 
if I die, God will—'' 

He could not finish ; but sank back on his pillows. 
His mother had already suspected the worst, and with 
difficulty kept herself from sobbing and screaming 
aloud at finding her fears justified ; but Eurydice 
respectfully and firmly entreated her not to agitate 
the Bey, and said, 

" By God's mercy, this will cure in a little while, 
if the poison be what I imagine." 

She went to look for the cup, and by good fortune 
it was still unwashed. The confusion caused by the 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER, 279 

sudden attack had disconcerted the slaves, and no one 
had thought of carrying the tray to the kitchen. 
Irene put it on a shelf till the doctor should arrive, 
and they then knelt in the anteroom, the three women 
who believed, and she prayed shortly but earnestly. 
Poor Ain el Hayat could not remain long away from 
her husband ; but the prayer seemed to comfort her, 
and inspired her with hope. She then went to him, 
and sat waiting for about half an hour, through which 
he seemed unconscious. 

"Oh, Sitt Irene! call Eurydice again, I fear he is 
worse !" 

" I don't want these Greeks about my son ; what 
good has she done ?*' said the mother. 

Eurydice looked in, but did not enter, " Have 
patience, lady, a little longer ; I fancy he is easier, but 
you must wait and see." 

An hour had passed before he opened his eyes ; 
the German doctor was knocking at the door, and 
the ladies hastily veiled themselves. Zohrab smiled 
faintly, and said, " I am better, thank God !" 

They both began to cry softly and murmur thanks- 
givings. Then the doctor entered ; the case was 
quickly described to him by Irene, who talked French, 
with which he was more familiar than Arabic. He 
looked at the cup, and desired to take it to a chemist's 
to analyse the dregs properly ; but from the account 
given he had little doubt that the conjecture of 
''Madame "was quite correct, and that the remedy 



28o THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER. 

she had given had been an antidote ; at least he 
added (for he did not like to let the woman think 
they could possibly have done without him) : 

** It has g^ven us time to act I will at once send 
something ; and you must get hot water and some 
other matters." 

After giving his directions he went out, promising 
to return in a few hours. 

The analysis proved that Eurydice was quite 

correct, and information was sent to the proper 

quarter that an attempt had a second time been made 

on the Bey*s life. But the man in authority could not 

be expected to take much trouble about a renegade, 

as he said, for Ahmed had taken care to give his 

information in time, and it seemed doubtful whether 

he was sorry at the attempt or at the failure, when 

the doctor, at the request of the family, sent the 

account by the secretary. Mrs. Hillyard, on receiving 

a note from her sister about the affair, went to the 

secretary and proposed to him to let them go together 

to give information, and endeavour to bring a charge 

against the suspected man, who of course was Ahmed 

They went therefore to the chief of the local police, and 

told all they could collect. He replied, however, that 

he had already heard from his superior about it, and 

that it seemed there was nothing to go on beyond the 

account of a female slave ; that slaves were all liars, 

and women were all foolish ; and that he could not 

see why, as the Bey was declared out of danger, it was 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER, 28 1 

necessary to take any step at all ; probably it was 
only an attack of fever, or he had taken unwholesome 
food. 

" They tell me," he added, " that the Bey is turned 
Christian ; if so, he will not find the air of Cairo suit 
his health long, I expect ; " and with a shrug he dis- 
missed the application. 

Mr. Hillyard then repaired to his friend's house, and 
as he was now sufficiently recovered to be moved to 
another room, he was allowed to see him. It was 
evening by this time, and the twelve hours of suffer- 
ing had altered the young man sadly, but it was only 
temporary. The antidote proved successful ; it was 
a plant of which the virtue against this kind of poison 
was a secret known to a few old women in Crete, who 
gave it with caution, and only revealed it to their 
families or near friends. Eurydice had learned it 
from her old servant, who had been one of those 
herbalist women, her family for several generations 
having practised the use of herbs, and among many 
that were perhaps useless were a few secrets worth 
knowing. 

When her son was going to receive his friend, of 
course Sitt Fatmeh left him, and then going up to the 
former slave, she clasped her in her arms and wept on 
her neck, while expressing in broken words her thanks 
for her having saved her son. It was a great satisfac- 
tion to the deaconess to have thus been graciously 
permitted to be of such use to those who had been kind 



282 THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER. 

to her, and to the young lady, above all, whom she 
loved devotedly, and who was now ** one of the Lord's 
own," as she told Ir^ne with tears of joy. 

But mischievous tongues never will let people be 
good and happy, it seems, without meddling; and 
some interfering female had picked up the news at 
the wedding, probably through slaves, that Zohrab 
had refused to say the fatthah, and that all the people 
were saying he was turning Christian. This infor- 
mation she confided to Sitt Nezleh, in whose house 
she was staying after the festival, and of course added 
many little particulars of her own invention about the 
English lady bringing pork to the hareem, and Zohrab 
Bey being likely to be imprisoned in a few days. This 
last, though not true as yet, might become so, 
unhappily. 

Nezleh, who had only heard a vague report of her 
brother's having been poisoned or ill of fever from one 
of his servants, hastened, in a state of fearful anxiety 
and anger, to the hareem as fast as a carriage could 
convey her, and entered with a rapid step behind the 
curtain just after Mr. Hillyard had arrived and was 
sitting by the Bey's sofa in his upper reception-room, 
apart from the hareem, and entered by a separate way, 
but on the same floor. The gentlemen therefore 
could hear the excited lady's voice, as she, after a 
hurried salutation, burst forth to her sister-in-law : 

** So, this is what tjiou hast done, serpent ! Per- 
suaded my brother to turn Christian ! No wonder 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER. 283 

he has enemies, if that is it ! Ah, woe, woe ! cursed 
be the day ! " and she screamed and danced in her 
rage and grief, while her tears ran down at the same 
time. 

" It is not so, my sister," said the gentle Ain el 
Hayat, softly, '*it is not so. My lord believes the 
Gospel, indeed ; but it is not I who told him to 
do so." 

" Who then ? Who has cormpted him ? Is it not 
thy English friend, Sitt Irene, who brought Christian 
books here ? Ah, deny it if thou canst, child of deceit !" 

" I do not deny she gave me books, but it was with 
Zohrab's consent, and he read in them before he 
knew her." 

" Who then has turned him } Answer me ! Who 
has made a son of Islam to eat dust and desert his 
father's ways ? Who has made him, I say, to be a 
Christian ; canst thou not tell ? '' and she fairly 
stamped her little foot as she spoke. 

" I can tell ! " was the answer very calmly said. 

" Speak then ! " shaking her arm, in spite of her 
mother's remonstrances. " Speak and tell me." 

" It was the Spirit of God," replied Ain el Hayat, 
solemnly. 

Her sister-in-law paused ; she was astonished and 
awed at the way in which the words were said, and 
for some time remained quietly wiping her eyes, and 
even sat down. 

The mother then observed that she could not 



284 THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER. 

believe God's Spirit made men Christians, because" 
she very logically said, *•' Christians are infidels, and 
God does not love infidels." 

" But, mother, Zohrab is not an infidel, nor am I, nor 
are any real Christians," said Ain el Hayat. " True 
Christians are those who believe God sent Seidna Issa 
(the Moslem term for our Lord Jesus) into the world 
to save sinners, and that He is the Word of God 
Himself.'* 

" Why, our Koran says He is the Word ! " cried 
Nezleh ; " of course that is true, therefore." 

" But," continued the mother, " they do not believe 
that the Mohammed is the prophet of God, and that 
he is greater than Jesus." 

" No, certainly," said her daughter-in-law, " for it is 
a mistake to believe that.*' 

"Our Koran made a mistake! Child, thou art 
mad!" 

"Mother! men wrote it, and men often mistake. 
God's book is inspired, and His Spirit cannot be 
wrong. Zohrab said these very words to me." 

" Really, Ain el Hayat, you are too clever for me. 
I am of Islam, and have no other belief, nor will I 
have ; but I see things are perhaps less bad than I 
supposed. Don't be angry with her, Nezleh; she is 
a good daughter and a good wife, I must say it ; by 
the prophet's head, I tell no lies !" 

She certainly told no lie in this, for her daughter- 
in-law had given the soft answer that turneth away 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER. 285 

wrath every day and really every hour since her 
return from the Nile. 

They both cried a little, and kissed each other, and 
then Nezleh by degrees became composed and ate 
an orange, and began to smile, though with a sorrow- 
ful look in her eyes all the time. By this time Mr. 
Hillyard had left, and she was summoned by the aga 
to her brother. He received her with affection, and 
begged her to stay the night, as he had much to say, 
and was too weak now to talk more. They brought 
him soup, and the doctor having seen him again and 
made a favourable report, left him to the care (as he 
said, pointing to Eurydice) of this old lady, *'who 
seems to me a most capable nurse. I only wish I had 
half a dozen such to attend my patients." 



CHAPTER XXV. 

FAREWELL TO CAIRO. 

" TV 4^ Y own love ! I wished to see you alone before 
-*-''-'■ any one else is awake," was the greeting of 
Zohrab Bey to his wife when, at an early hour in the 
morning, she received a summons to go to him from 
the servant who had slept outside his door to keep 
watch. 

She looked so sweet, he thought, as she came in 
fresh and bright from the joy following sorrow, and 
from the calm sleep that had rested those bright eyes 
that turned so lovingly towards him — her long silky 
brown locks hung loosely over her fur-lined open 
jacket of plum-coloured velvet, which had been 
thrown hastily over her wrapper of silver-grey cash- 
mere ; she had no ornaments, having only risen a 
short time before (and needed none). 

Drawing near the sofa, where Zohrab reclined, 
wrapped in the scarlet and white striped Western 
Arab's blanket, as those beautiful desert-wove cover- 
ings are called, she asked after his health, and then 
seated herself at his feet to hear what he had special 
to say, for his look told her that something was of 
importance. 



FAREWELL TO CAIRO. 287 

" You are quite recovered, my love ? " she asked 
anxiously, finding he still hesitated. 

" Oh, do not fear ! Thanks to God's mercy all is 

well now ; but, my wife, I want to speak to you 

before my mother and sister interrupt us. Listen, 

• Ain el Hayat : thou has now drunk of the well of 

life. Is it not so ? " 

" And thou also, my Zohrab," she said, laying her 
head upon the hand that rested on the cushion beside ' 
her ; " thou and I now know those words and their 
meaning." 

"Then, love, we can give up the earthly stream, 
the sweet river of our youth, the Nile that we have 
dwelt beside so long, and go to a strange place, 
though it will be hard! but we can drink of the 
spiritual fountain everywhere." 

" Must we go away from Egypt, from the Nile and 
the palm trees ? Are you afraid the enemy who gave 
you the poison " (shuddering as she spoke) " will find 
you, and murder you, dearest?" 

" I do not exactly say so, but I think the risk is 
great, and that the living in constant suspicion of 
every one, and watching for one's life, would destroy 
the very marrow in my bones. I saw Mir. Hillyard 
yesterday, as you know, but before my mother I would 
not repeat what he told me. He says, and my 
faithful secretary says the same, that it is evident 
they have determined not to protect or help me, and 
that they only refrain from bringing me before the 



288 FAREWELL TO CAIRO. 

Government as a renegade from Islam for want of 
any distinct proofs ; as they could not very easily 
base an accusation on what passed that night. A 
public baptism, we know, would at once have enabled 
them to apprehend me ; but they have not enough 
to go upon as it is. There seemed a disposition to 
allow me time to leave Egypt quietly if I chose; 
but my friends assured me that they had reason to 
fear any secret attempt would be winked at, and 
even at the best, I might be misrepresented as a 
political traitor to Government. More than all, dear 
wife, I feel that I wish to be open and free and 
able to meet boldly with my Christian friends, and 
avow my views." (He felt also, but was wise enough 
not to name the feeling, that it would be good for 
her to be away from the trammels of the hareem 
and the dominion of his affectionate but tyrannical 
mother, at any rate for a time.) " Pray, my dear one, 
that God will give you courage to do what is right," 
he continued. 

"It is right to obey my husband and go wherever 
he wishes,'* she said with tears in her eyes. 

** Would you wish me to leave you and go alone ? " 

She threw herself into his arms at that. 

" Ah, my Zohrab, to be with you I would even go 
to the Frank country ! " 

He smiled. " Not now, my love ; perhaps one day, 
who knows ? But at present, I only wish to go to 
Smyrna, where my friend, Mr. Freeman, is going to 



FAREWELL TO CAIRO, 289 

spend the spring months with a relation of his, a 
merchant there. We will, by God's permission, take 
a house in Smyrna, and live quietly there ; and after a 
while I hope to be able to go to my small property in 
Cyprus. It is said the English are going by-and-by 
to have possession of the island ; it will then be quite 
safe for Christian converts ; I wish it may be so for 
the sake of civilisation and the knowledge of the 
Gospel. I wish to see the British flag wave over 
Cyprus therefore, for the rule of Turkey closes the door 
to light ; it has been the case for centuries, and I must 
wish more for the real good of man than for mere 
names. Let the English rule Cyprus, with all my 
heart, only let them do good to the adopted child, and 
make him a son in truth," he added smiling. "Mean- 
while we will go to Smyrna. I have told my secretary 
to arrange the sale of my estate in the neighbourhood 
of Sitt Irene, it is the best, and we have already been 
invited to sell it. I fear their managing to get it 
confiscated, or that my brother, who is a good-for- 
nothing, poor youth, will get hold of it when I am not 
here ; at all events, I could not secure it for you, in 
case — there do not cry ; never mind ! God will, I 
hope, preserve us for one another for long, if He sees 
good '* (for Ain el Hayat could not without tears bear 
the allusion to the possibility of losing him). ** W.ell 
the money will set me up as a tolerably rich merchant 
at Smyrna, and I shall be well employed ; and if God 
should one day grant us children they would be 

u 



290 FAREWELL TO CAIRO. 

provided for ; and, at all events, I may do good among 
the ignorant and poor, and by seeing some Christian 
friends and listening to the Gospel, improve our- 
selves." 

" But I do not know their languages, Zohrab." 

" There are perhaps some who preach in Turkish, 
which you know well, and I should like you to learn 
either English or French." 

" Oh, English best, because of dear Sitt Irene ; 
how sorry I shall be to part with her ! '* 

" Perhaps one day she may come and see us in 
Cyprus, when we go there as I wish ; but, Ain el 
Hayat, do not think I give up Egypt ; oh no ! God 
hears prayer, and will open a door for Egypt, I 
believe ; when and how I cannot tell, but it will be 
open some day, and perhaps before very many years, 
and then—" 

** Would you then return, Zohrab ? " 

" Surely, I would bring you back, love, if we were 
both alive. When that day comes that a man may 
profess Christ openly, and not be secretly poisoned, 
or thrown into a prison for it, then, surely, we would 
return. I can never love any land so dearly as my 
own ; and you, dear one, though of foreign blood, art 
in heart a child of the country where all your life 
almost has been passed. Oh, if we can see the day 
when Egypt shall have a people in the midst of the 
land who know the Saviour, what a joy it will be ! 
But, whatever happens, my wife, we two must be 



FAREWELL TO CAIRO, 291 

faithful to Him who saved us, and gave us to drink 
of the water of life, and has taught us to say, like 
David, the prophet, *With Thee is the fountain of 
life, and in Thy light we shall see light/ " 



CONCLUSION. 

OUR tale is closing, the hareem curtain is being 
drawn, but we will take one look (like the 
hasty glance of a traveller on a railway) ere the view 
is shut out ! 

A year had passed since the last words were 
spoken between Zohrab Bey and his fair wife ; Irene 
was bidding farewell for a short time to her friend 
and fellow-labourer, Eurydice, the Greek deaconess; 
and committing to her care the poor and sick, as well 
as the house at the Abbadeeh. She was going to 
spend a month or two at Smyrna, to welcome her 
sister Clara, who was to arrive shortly with her 
husband, no other than our old friend the Rev. Robert 
Freeman. They were just married, and were to pass 
the winter with his brother, the relative before-men- 
tioned, who resided there, and who was now partner in 
merchant business with Zohrab. But there was another 
to be welcomed besides her sister. Irene was to be 
present at a baptism (a public one this time), that of 
the infant daughter of her beloved Ain el Hayat, by 
the special invitation of both the parents ; yes, they 
were no longer childless now ! 

The grandmother, Sitt Fatmeh, was somewhat dis- 



CONCLUSION, 293 



appointed that it was a daughter and not a son, but 
she hoped that blessing might one day be granted. 
She felt the separation much, but all who knew her 
were aware that it was better for both parties under 
the circumstances. 

Ahmed was dead. He had received a large sum 
from Zohrab's brother when he made the attempt, 
that so nearly succeeded, on the Bey's life ; but 
very shortly afterwards was found dead in his bed, 
it was supposed from a fit. But a few weeks after- 
wards his former accomplice, Ismael, opened a large 
tobacco shop in the Bab-el-Look ; and, as he was 
quite poor previously, it was whispered that the 
coincidence was remarkable ; however, no one inter- 
fered. The ungodly sometimes flourish for a time, 
but they are in slippery places, and will fall either 
in this world or the next, if not in both, though 
now they may seem like the green bay-tree, " While 
he whose delight is in the law of the Lord, shall 
be like the tree planted by the rivers of water, even 
by the fountain of life ! " 



WILLIAM KU>BK AND SON PRINTERS, LONDON. 



RETURN TO the circulation desk of any 
University of Caiifbrnta Ubrary 
or to the 
NORTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY 
BIdg. 400, Richmond Field Station 
University of California 
Richmond. CA 94804-4698 

ALL BOOKS IVIAV BE RECALLED AFTER 7 DAYS 

• 2-month loans may be renewed by calling 
(510) 642-6753 

• 1 -year loans may be recharged by bringing 
books to NRLF 

• Renewals and recharges may be made 4 
days prior to due date. 

DUE AS STAMPED BELOW 
OCNTONILL 

m? . I 8 I3S9 

U.U.bhHkbLbV 



MAY 2 6 2003 



SENT ON ILL 

MA R 2 1 2UD6 

U.O. DCRKCLEY 



12.000(11/95) 



1031 



lir 



M217050 

\a;5 



THE UNIVERSnT OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY